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Wyoming Game & Fish Director Terry Cleveland To Retire

March 7, 2008

Cheyenne, WY - After 39 years of service to the state, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director Terry Cleveland is retiring, effective June 30, 2008. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will immediately commence a nationwide search for his replacement. The commission will select three final nominees for the position and forward those names to Governor Freudenthal, who will make the final selection.

A Rawlins native, Cleveland began his career with the department in 1969 after graduating from Colorado State University. His first assignment was as Special Deputy Game Warden at Elk Mountain. As his career as a Wyoming Game Warden progressed, he was assigned to stations in Jeffrey City, Greybull, and Saratoga. In 1978 he was promoted to District Wildlife Supervisor for the Casper district. In 1996 he was promoted to Assistant Division Chief in the Wildlife Division. And in 2003 he was appointed Director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

"Few people have the good fortune to spend their entire professional life in employment for which they have a passion," said Cleveland. "I am one of the lucky few who have looked forward to going to work on a daily basis for almost four decades."

"Terry Cleveland may be the finest director that the Game and Fish Department has ever seen," said Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal. "During his tenure, he navigated some of the most difficult wildlife management issues that our state has ever faced, including the delisting of wolves and grizzly bears and the ongoing challenges of sage grouse conservation and brucellosis. As he grappled with these challenges, Terry did so with a sense of mastery, and conducted himself in a manner that built confidence in department staff and in the citizens of Wyoming. Terry will leave the Game and Fish Department in very good condition heading into the future, and I thank him for his dedication, his service and his enduring commitment to the state. I will miss him as a colleague and a friend and hope to not let him go very far as I will continue to rely on him for his wise counsel."

"It's been a pleasure to work with all the people I've crossed paths with during the past four decades," said Cleveland. "We are blessed to have professional, dedicated people throughout the department. The Wyoming Game and Fish commission has done an outstanding job of bridging the gap between the department and the public while always keeping the best interests of Wyoming's wildlife at the forefront. I also want to recognize the efforts of Governor Freudenthal and the Wyoming Legislature. Their commitment to Wyoming's wildlife resources has made my job much easier. And finally, I would like to thank all of the private landowners who provide habitat for wildlife across the state. The richness, abundance, and diversity of Wyoming's wildlife resources would not be nearly so great without the contributions of the hundreds of private landowners in the state."

During his tenure as director, Cleveland focused on finding additional sources of funding for wildlife management in Wyoming. He was instrumental in obtaining general fund appropriations for a number of wildlife programs that benefit Wyoming's citizens, including capital facilities, veterinary services, management of gray wolves, sage grouse conservation, and sensitive species.

"The department's management and conservation programs have traditionally been funded almost entirely by hunters and anglers," said Cleveland. "But I've always felt that Wyoming's wildlife benefits all of our citizens, and that those who don't hunt and fish should have the opportunity to help support conservation and management of these precious resources. As hunter and angler numbers continue to decrease and costs for management and conservation continue to rise, one of the most pressing challenges for the future of wildlife in Wyoming will be finding a dedicated funding stream for wildlife and fisheries management in the state."

As director, Cleveland also oversaw the removal of grizzly bears and gray wolves from the federal list of threatened and endangered species and the transition of those high-profile species from federal to state management. He led the implementation of a new electronic licensing system that provides new levels of customer service and convenience for hunters and anglers. Cleveland was also instrumental in addressing the problem of brucellosis in northwest Wyoming, and helping the state regain its brucellosis-free status.

Though Cleveland was involved in many high-profile projects over the past four decades, one of the most important for Wyoming's wildlife was his role in resolving the controversy over private game farming, which embroiled the department from the late 1980s to early 1990s. Cleveland was intimately involved in developing and defending Wyoming's position throughout this process. His involvement and perseverance were critical to the ultimate decision to say no to game farming and associated problems with wildlife diseases in Wyoming and have helped make Wyoming the envy of others throughout the United States and Canada with an entrenched game farming industry.

Looking to the future, Cleveland said he sees a number of challenges on the horizon for Wyoming's wildlife and their habitats, including the myriad of diseases and invasive species that plague wildlife; adapting to the challenges brought on by continued persistent drought and climate change; addressing the loss of habitat due to urban and industrial expansion; and fulfilling the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission's statutory mandate to provide for an adequate and flexible system for control, propagation, management, protection, and regulation of all Wyoming wildlife.

"It has been my privilege, honor, and great good fortune to have served on the Game and Fish Commission these past four and a half years that Terry Cleveland has served as director," said Bill Williams, president of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission. "The passion, institutional knowledge, and most of all the credibility he brought to the job is unsurpassed in the history of the department. The department, the commission, and most importantly wildlife and the people of Wyoming have benefited immensely from not only his four and one half years as director--but his nearly forty years as a dedicated, fully engaged Game and Fish employee. I'm sure I speak for the entire commission when I say that there will be a huge void to fill when he leaves the department--but at the same time we wish he and his wife, Donna, all the very best as they enjoy his well deserved retirement."

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