Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Update - Aug. 2, 2022

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Kentucky Fish and Wildlife in the news

WKYT (Lexington)

WUKY 91.3 (Lexington)

WYMT (Hazard)

Indianapolis Star

Lexington Herald Leader

The Courier-Journal (Louisville)

Link NKY (Covington)

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Nashville District)

Northern Kentucky Tribune (Edgewood)

The Avery Journal Times (Newland, N.C.)

Great Outdoors News

GON - bats

Gray bats and Indiana bats are federally protected as endangered species, which have been seriously declining in recent decades. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife staff work with Kentucky State Parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners to improve and protect habitats as well as conduct bat counts in hibernation and maternity sites each year to monitor populations over time.

Although de-listing these species will require more progress, these efforts are working.

Wildlife biologist retires

Traci Hemberger

Wildlife Division Assistant Director Dan Figert (left) presented Traci Hemberger (right) with a plaque upon her retirement.

Wildlife biologist Traci Hemberger recently retired after more than 28 years of service in the department’s Wildlife Division.  Hemberger's work has contributed greatly to conserving Kentucky’s s species of greatest conservation need, including several federally-listed endangered and threatened bats. Thank you for your dedicated service, Traci.  We wish you a wonderful retirement!

LE search and rescue

Conservation Officers Benjamin Fisher (right) and Bobby Owens search an area impacted by flash flooding.

Fish and Wildlife staff respond after flash floods hit eastern Kentucky

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife staff from multiple divisions and the Commissioner's Office have assisted with emergency response and relief efforts in several southeastern Kentucky counties since flash floods devastated the area last week.

From search and rescue and recovery missions to clearing debris and delivering meals and other supplies to flood victims, department staff have filled important roles, even as some have been personally impacted by the flooding.

Water rescue

Dozens of conservation officers have assisted with emergency response efforts, including technical rescues and recoveries, supply delivery, wellness checks and security details.

Conservation officers had assisted with 137 missions that rescued 130 people and resulted in the recovery of 28 victims through Monday.

Commissioner Storm at WCK

Commissioner Rich Storm on Monday delivered supplies to the World Central Kitchen hub at East Perry Elementary School in Hazard and to Hindman Baptist Church in Knott County.

JJ Baker meal delivery

Staff from the Wildlife Division also connected with World Central Kitchen and have been delivering meals to area residents in hard-to-reach areas. In between deliveries, staff are scouting flood-impacted areas to determine additional needs. 

Nick Ray

Commissioner Storm and Deputy Commissioner Brian Clark delivered supplies to staff who suffered property damage and losses, and helped Engineering staff Nick Ray and Tom Burberry to clear debris deposited by mudslides and flooding on roads.

A chainsaw crew of Wildlife Division staff led by Southeast Wildlife Region Coordinator Mike Strunk also helped with debris removal in the immediate aftermath of the floods.

Thank you to staff and so many others involved with the emergency response. At a time when many are hurting, we are grateful you are there to help.

LE EOC meeting

Couch receives regional award

Zack Couch, MAFWA Biologist of the Year

Commissioner Rich Storm (second from left) presented Zack Couch (second from right) with MAFWA's 2022 Wildlife Biologist of the Year Award alongside Wildlife Division Director Ben Robinson (left) and Deputy Commissioner Brian Clark (right).

Zack Couch, Wildlife Diversity Program coordinator, received the Wildlife Biologist of the Year Award for 2022 from the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (MAFWA).

Couch was nominated by the department for his outstanding leadership and efforts to benefit Kentucky’s species of greatest conservation need, ranging from bats and birds to mussels and crayfish.

Staff spotlight

Staff Spotlight, Kevin Osborne - I&E

In the spotlight this week is Kevin Osborne, superintendent of Camp Robert C. Webb.

Fun facts about Kevin: He enjoys spending time with his family, going to church and attending his children's sporting events. Kevin's also an avid racoon hunter, whose other outdoors interests include gardening and bee keeping.

“Staff Spotlight” introduces you to the variety of our employees and the breadth of their expertise, as well as the diversity of jobs, programs and initiatives of the department.

Thank you to Kevin and all of our dedicated staff.