Doug McWhirter, WY-WSF Life Member and outstanding bighorn sheep biologist retires after distinguished career from WGFD

Congratulations to our friend and long-time life member, Doug McWhirter on 35 spectacular years with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. You have gone above and beyond in managing Wyoming's wildlife and your outstanding efforts for Wyoming's bighorn sheep will live forever. Hats off to you Doug!

Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Coordinator Doug McWhirter Retires

McWhirter cap distinguished wildlife career with Director’s Award!

Mark Gocke, WGFD Public Information Specialist
August 15, 2022

After a distinguished 35-year career with the State of Wyoming, Game and Fish Department Jackson Wildlife Management Coordinator Doug McWhirter will be wearing the signature red uniform for the last time. And fittingly, at the recent Game and Fish Commission meeting in Evanston, Doug was honored with the prestigious Director’s Award from Wyoming Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik.

“Doug has been an exceptional leader and mentor to many over the course of his career,” said Director Nesvik. “Doug has been able to successfully navigate some of the state’s most contentious wildlife issues due to his outstanding professionalism and credibility. I have worked with Doug in several different capacities over the years and Doug has always been one of my mentors.”

Throughout his career, Doug has played critical roles in many important wildlife management issues across Wyoming, ranging from bighorn/domestic sheep co-mingling issues, to elk-wolf relationships in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, to energy development on mule deer winter ranges, to management of issues associated with elk feedgrounds. 

McWhirter is recognized as the leading bighorn sheep expert for Wyoming and one of the most knowledgeable and respected in the Rocky Mountain States. Doug has served as the co-chair of the Department’s Bighorn Sheep Working Group since its inception in 1997. Doug helped coordinate statewide research projects involving pneumonia surveillance in bighorn sheep. This on-going research has involved large-scale capturing, collaring, disease surveillance and body condition measurements for several core bighorn sheep herds across the state.

Doug has also served as the co-chair of the Statewide Bighorn/Domestic Sheep Interaction Working Group since 2010. The interaction working group is a public group comprised of diverse stakeholders including livestock permitees, the Wyoming Wool Growers Association, Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Wyoming Stockgrowers Association, state legislators, the Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation, and partnering federal agencies, among others. Under his leadership, this diverse group has successfully worked through many challenging issues involving both domestic and wild bighorn sheep in Wyoming.

McWhirter is a Kansas native, and after earning a Bachelor of Science degree from Wichita State University, he earned a Master’s Degree from the University of Wyoming researching bighorn sheep in the Cody Region. Upon completion, Doug was hired as a wildlife biologist by the Game and Fish Department in Cheyenne. After short stints as a wildlife biologist in Cheyenne and Wheatland, Doug transferred to Pinedale where he served as the wildlife biologist for 10 years. He then transferred to Cody where he served as a wildlife biologist for an additional 15 years. Doug was then promoted to the Wildlife Management Coordinator position in Jackson where he served for the past five years. 

Doug has been honored with many awards throughout his illustrious career. Within Game and Fish, in addition to the recent Director’s Award, Doug has received the Outstanding Leadership Award, the Wildlife Division Employee of the Year Award and the Peer Recognition Award in both the Cody and Pinedale regions. In addition, Doug was honored as the Wildlife Professional of the Year from the Wyoming Chapter of the Wildlife Society, the Wildlife Conservationist of the Year from the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, Wildlife Manager of the Year from the Wyoming Game Wardens Association and was inducted into the Wild Sheep Biologist Wall of Fame by the Wild Sheep Foundation.

In addition, Doug also was a co-author for the recently-released book Greater Yellowstone’s Mountain Ungulates, a contrast in management histories and challengeson bighorn sheep and mountain goats. 

I’ve always considered being entrusted with managing Wyoming’s Wildlife an incredible privilege and never taken that lightly,” said McWhirter. “And the support I’ve had at all levels of the Game and Fish has been extremely meaningful to me and made my career a charmed one.” 

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