TERRESTRIAL NONGAME WILDLIFE SPECIALIST
When we asked Sharon what a typical workday day is like for her, she laughed. “I work with birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians, falconry—basically any animal that is native to the state of Arizona and is not pursued through hunting and fishing!”
With such a mix of responsibilities, her laughing response makes sense. She might spend a few days camping in the field and hiking in creeks to monitor frogs and snakes. Or, you might find her glued to her binoculars monitoring birds and bats. On the administrative side, she hands out special licenses and answers phone calls and emails from the public regarding wildlife viewing, injured wildlife and licensing questions.
Sharon always wanted to work with animals but wasn’t really sure what she wanted to do. During a chance internship managing pronghorn and bison while she pursued a degree in zoology, it finally clicked. “This initial internship opened my eyes to the importance of true wildlife management and protecting Arizona’s vital resources,” she remembers.
Given her conservation work, it surprises a lot of people to learn that Sharon is an avid hunter. But to her, it makes absolutely sense and speaks to Arizona Game and Fish Department’s core mission. “Hunting and fishing allow for management of wildlife species, in turn conserving their status on the landscape for decades to come,” she explains. “Conservation of native species is imperative to preserving that natural heritage and the foundations of our wildlife community in our unique ecosystems.”
Her line of work has delivered plenty of amazing experiences, including a memorable day when she spotted two elusive Mexican gray wolves. But to her, the magic of her job is sharing exactly what it means to conserve and protect wildlife. “Conservation is happening every day at the minuscule level of the tiny, endemic spring snails, to the landscape level management of habitat to allow pronghorn to thrive.”