Disease research earns Hank Edwards Professional of the Year

The Wyoming Chapter of The Wildlife Society named Hank Edwards professional of the year for his contributions of disease research to the wildlife field.

This is the second time Edwards, supervisor of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Wildlife Health Laboratory, has earned the accolade, making him the only person in the chapter to be named Professional of the Year twice. He previously won the award in 2006.

“Hank leads a talented team of wildlife disease professionals who are nationally recognized for being on the leading edge of diagnostic techniques for brucellosis, chronic wasting disease and bighorn sheep respiratory disease,” said Aly Courtemanch, a Game and Fish wildlife biologist in Jackson, in a press release. Courtemanch was one of five of Edward’s colleagues who nominated him for the annual award.

Edwards and his laboratory have conducted research that has brought biologists closer to understand more about Brucella abortus organisms which cause brucellosis in elk (Cervus canadensis) in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. He and his colleagues analyzed elk blood samples and helped map areas where brucellosis was prevalent in areas of Wyoming as well as track the progression of the disease in the state.

That’s just one of his contributions throughout his career at Game and Fish, where he’s been working since 1997. He has also co-authored 25 wildlife disease publications ranging from topics such as brucellosis vaccines for elk to bovine viral diarrhea virus in deer. Edwards also co-authored the Field Guide to Disease of Wyoming Wildlife in 2011.

Edwards also led a decade-long effort to sample all bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) and mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) herds in Wyoming for respiratory pathogens.

“It’s humbling and a great honor to be recognized by my peers,” said Edwards. “I work with people who are incredibly dedicated to wildlife and go above and beyond to help study and prevent the spread of wildlife diseases. I am really proud to hang this award on my wall.”

Header Image: Hank Edwards has contributed a plethora of disease research to the wildlife field.
©Wyoming Game and Fish Department