RALEIGH, N.C. (Dec. 3, 2012)
— Benjy Strope, a technical assistance biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, has been given the Wildlife Management Excellence Award from the Southeastern Section of The Wildlife Society. The award recognizes his work in establishing and managing early-successional habitat on corporate-owned swine farms and private lands in southeastern North Carolina.
Strope, who has worked at the Commission for 11 years, received the award during the recent annual conference of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Strope has been instrumental in securing and managing $566,000 in grants to improve more than 1,000 acres of quail habitat. This year, the area in which he worked demonstrated what is likely the highest density of quail populations in North Carolina.
“Integrating natural resource management strategies into the management of large farms will continue to be a challenging but necessary process if agricultural producers are to address wildlife and environmental quality,” said Commission Wildlife Management Chief David Cobb. “This is a model that can be replicated in other areas of the state and on corporate farms across the nation. The Wildlife Management Excellence Award is fitting recognition of his hard work, dedication and leadership.”
Strope mainly works with corporate farmers, successfully convincing farmers that making a profit can be accomplished while providing wildlife habitat and improving water quality. He monitors nutrients and pollutants in ditches and waterways on his project farms to improve water quality, and conducts spring bird counts to monitor quail and other early-successional bird species. He also coordinates surveys to determine wildlife response to habitat improvements.
As a direct result of his habitat improvements, there are frequent observations of high-priority and shrinking populations of songbirds, such as blue grosbeaks, indigo buntings and dicksissels. In addition to conducting field days and workshops for local farmers, Strope is sought out by farmers for his expertise. Strope also coordinates with scientists from local universities to study habitat improvement methods.
Strope graduated from California University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Wildlife Biology in 1996 and worked for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries and the Foundation for California University before going to work for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission in 2001. He was named the Division of Wildlife Management Biologist of the Year in 2011.