NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Dan Gibbs has been named the 2017 Wildlife Biologist of the Year by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA). The organization represents the fish and wildlife agencies of the 15 southeastern states, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. The presentation came at SEAFWA’s annual meeting held in Louisville, Ky. Gibbs serves the TWRA as its Bear Program Leader.
Gibbs established an on-line bear reporting system on the TWRA website so the public can report bear sightings, which adds to the information TWRA bases its bear management decisions. He works closely with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee National Forest, the city of Gatlinburg, and other communities to deal with bear conflict issues. He coordinates TWRA’s efforts with the Appalachian Bear Rescue which cares for orphaned cubs and relocates them into the wild.
“Dan’s efforts to implement the use of bear proof trash cans and to educate thousands of tourists about bear-human conflicts and how they can prevent them have been vital for the health of the state’s bear population and the safety of our visitors and citizens,” said TWRA Director Ed Carter. “He is an exceptional employee, always willing to assist his coworkers, and a consummate professional when dealing with the public.”
Gibbs currently serves as the SEAFWA Large Carnivore Working Group chair and has been an active member of the Southeast Black Bear Work Group for many years. A multistate bear population study using DNA from hair samples and the adoption of a standardized educational outreach program called BearWise are two results of his leadership and engagement.
Beyond his black bear duties, Gibbs coordinates goose and wood duck banding and dove field leasing. In conjunction with the region’s wildlife management area managers, Gibbs assists in developing annual hunting season recommendations.
Gibbs joined the TWRA in 1997. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in wildlife and fisheries science. He earned his master’s from Tennessee Tech University in wildlife management.
SEAFWA’s Biologist of the Year Awards are presented to two career biologists of state wildlife agencies, one each in the categories of wildlife and fisheries, who in the opinion of the SEAFWA Awards Committee have made outstanding contributions toward wildlife/fisheries conservation.
SEAFWA is an organization whose members are the state agencies with primary responsibility for management and protection of the fish and wildlife resources in 15 states, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.