Wildlife Division Director Announces Retirement

Jim Karpowitz will retire from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources in December after serving the state’s residents and wildlife for the last 34 years.

Karpowitz announced he’ll retire on Dec. 1.

Karpowitz has served as the agency’s director since 2005. He’s been in his position longer than any state wildlife director who’s currently serving in the western United States. And he’s one of the longest serving state wildlife directors in the country.

Mike Styler, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources , said Karpowitz has been an exceptional leader for the DWR. He said Karpowitz has presided over a change in the agency’s culture, building partnerships with sportsmen and instituting customer-friendly policies.

“Above all,” Styler said, “Jim has done great things for Utah’s wildlife. He has overseen the improvement of 1 million acres of habitat and increased the diversity of Utah’s big game species. And although mule deer have suffered a national decline in recent decades, Jim has taken unprecedented steps to recover Utah’s mule deer herds.

“He is an outstanding biologist and a man of integrity,” Styler said. “He will be greatly missed.”

Styler wants to have a new director in place by Dec. 1.

“Jim frequently refers to a paper by Jack Ward Thomas, former chief of the U.S. Forest Service, when talking to our employees about what it means to be a wildlife professional,” DWR assistant directors Alan Clark and Cindee Jensen wrote in a nomination letter that led to Karpowitz winning a lifetime achievement award from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in 2011.

“A wildlife professional is more than just a person in a wildlife job,” Clark and Jensen wrote. “That paper, titled ‘Effectiveness – The Hallmark of the Natural Resource Professional,’ makes the point that the measure of success for a wildlife professional is demonstrated effectiveness in achieving objectives.

“By that measure, or any other you could name, Jim Kapowitz is a wildlife professional.”

Among Karpowitz’s many accomplishments during his 34 years with the DWR:

— Pioneering wildlife capture techniques in Utah, including the use of net guns to capture bighorn sheep, bison and other big game animals.

— Writing Utah’s first statewide management plans for moose and bighorn sheep.

— Development of a nationally recognized bighorn sheep restoration and management program.

— Using broad public input to revise Utah’s mule deer and elk management plans.

— Expanding Utah’s fish hatchery and community fishing programs.

— Improving the professional abilities of DWR employees through employee education and leadership programs.

“Despite all of these accomplishments and more,” Clark and Jensen wrote, “the flagship success of Jim’s administration has been the Watershed Restoration Initiative.

“Under Jim’s leadership, the division and a number of partners have restored or improved over 600,000 acres of high priority wildlife habitat in the last six years, a record unmatched in the state’s history.

“Throughout his time as director, Jim has focused on building partnerships with the many wildlife groups in Utah … ”

And the amount of habitat has grown since Karpowitz’s nomination letter was written in May 2011. By the end of 2012, the amount of habitat that has been improved or restored in Utah will reach 1 million acres.

A resident of Riverton, Karpowitz joined the DWR in 1979.