Retired South Carolina Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Mark O. Bara of Georgetown County has been awarded the Deer Management Career Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to White-Tailed Deer Management in the Southeastern United States.
Bara received the award during this year’s Southeast Deer Study Group Meeting held in February at the University of Georgia in Athens.
This award was presented by Dr. Steve Demarais of Mississippi State University, chairman of the Deer Committee of the Southeastern Section of The Wildlife Society. Demarais’ committee coordinates the annual conferences, which typically attract 300 to 400 registrants. According to Demarais, this is a highly coveted award and one of the most important given by the Southeastern Section of The Wildlife Society.
During the presentation, he said Bara once served as chair of the Deer Committee and played a major role in developing these conferences to their current level of participation and prominence.
Employed by what was then known as the S.C. Wildlife Resources Department in 1970, Bara, a Wildlife Society certified wildlife biologist, retired in August 2003 as regional coordinator for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Upper Coastal Region. According to Charles Ruth, DNR Deer and Turkey Program leader, Bara assisted hundreds of landowners and hunt clubs with habitat improvement and harvest recommendations.
“Among many other duties, Mark was also heavily involved in wild turkey restoration, overseeing the restocking of 1,433 wild turkeys on 90 sites within his nine county region.” Ruth said. “Mark remains active during retirement serving on Clemson and Coastal Carolina University advisory boards, is involved in deer management issues, and supports the student paper awards during the annual deer study group meetings.”
Bara has served for 11 years as treasurer of the Navy Club of Georgetown and serves on the Georgetown Friends of the National Rifle Association Banquet and Auction Committee. He is also a professional member of the Boone and Crockett Club and has been one of their official measurers since 1976.
“Had it not been for the U.S. Coast Guard and GI Bill benefits, graduate school at the University of Georgia, and my wife, Barbara, putting me through school; I simply would not have had a career with South Carolina DNR,” Bara said. “I am also indebted to long-time chief of wildlife and later division director, Brock Conrad, who hired me back in 1970. For these things and to these people, I am eternally grateful.”
Several other individuals associated with South Carolina have been honored with the Deer Management Career Achievement Award. These included Dr. Richard F. Harlow, the first recipient when the award was initiated in 1996. The late Dr. Harlow had a long career with the Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission, followed by a stint as an associate professor at Clemson University. Bob Downing ended his career as a research biologist at Clemson University following retirement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The others are Clemson University professor Dr. David C. Guynn Jr. and Robert J. Hamilton, who worked on DNR wildlife biologist Gerald Moore’s deer research project in the 1980s—Hamilton is now director of development for the Quality Deer Management Association, which he founded. Of the 15 individuals recognized with this award since 1996, South Carolina is well represented. (No award was given in 2001, 2003, 2008, or 2013.)
“This can be a lonely profession, and you rarely accomplish anything by yourself,” Bara said at the award ceremony, “and if you look good, it is only by virtue of other people making you look good. I was indeed privileged to work for and with some very good people in the Department, along with some very dedicated and supportive sportsmen, so it is on behalf of these individuals, that with pride and humility, I accept this wonderful award, the high point of my professional career.”
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