DSC has selected Jim Heffelfinger as the recipient of the 2023 Conservation Trailblazer Award. This award celebrates the monumental contribution of wildlife professionals to the field of wildlife and non-game conservation, including wildlife management and ‘habitat, applied research and policy.
Heffelfinger will receive the award, plus a $10,000 contribution in his name to the conservation project of his choosing, during a banquet Thursday night at the DSC’s 41st Annual Convention and Exposition to be held Jan. 5-8, 2023 .
Heffelfinger currently serves as the Wildlife Science Coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department and as an Adjunct Professor and Research Fellow at the University of Arizona. He has also worked for private landowners, the USDI Bureau of Land Management, and several universities as a research assistant and wildlife biologist. Heffelfinger was a regional game specialist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department for more than 20 years.
“Jim is a leading deer expert in the United States. He is a consummate professional who stands diligently on the side of science and not emotion or politics. The impact of his expertise, his leadership with the scientific community and ability to take complex scientific information and communicate it to a diversity of audiences make Jim worthy of consideration for this prestigious award,” Casey Stemler, Department of the Interior big game migration coordinator, says.
For over 30 years, Heffelfinger has focused primarily on big game and various deer species. He is the chair of the mule deer task force of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA). He authored his own book “Deer of the Southwest,” directed the writing of the American Mule Deer Conservation Plan, and is the lead editor of the forthcoming book “Ecology and Management of Black-tailed and Mule Deer in America from the North”. He has also been instrumental in helping to coordinate and implement the Department of the Interior Secretary’s Order on Big Game Winter Range and Migration, both in Arizona and with other state agency WAFWA biologists.
In addition, Heffelfinger has also written over 300 journal articles and 20 book chapters in regional, national and international publications. He has published dozens of scientific papers and written television scripts for outdoor television programs. He has participated in approximately 25 podcasts and maintains his own website called www.deernut.com.
“Given his incredible body of work and his ability to communicate with a wide audience that has manifested itself in a profound impact on conservation, along with a long list of recognition awards and peer achievements existing for this work and impact, I simply could not think of a better qualified candidate for the DSC Conservation Trailblazer Award,” said Edward B. Arnett, CEO of The Wildlife Society.