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Area wildlife manager receives prestigious award

Patt Dorsey, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Durango, has received the 2012 Shikar-Safari Club International “Wildlife Officer of the Year Award” for Colorado. This marks the first time the prestigious award was given to a woman in Colorado.

Shikar-Safari Club International is a worldwide hunting and wildlife conservation organization formed in 1952. Every year it recognizes wildlife professionals in all 50 states.

Dorsey is the supervisor at the Durango Parks and Wildlife office which covers an area from Pagosa Springs to Silverton to the Four Corners. In her position, she supervises 15 district wildlife managers, property technicians, biologists and administrative staff.

Dorsey was nominated for the award by her peers within Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

In the nominating letter, Bob Thompson, assistant chief of law enforcement for Parks and Wildlife, wrote: “Patt’s creativity and energy motivate and inspire those who work with her. She has a humble and open-minded demeanor … Her confidence, reliability and responsiveness allow her to forge relationships and collaboration with agencies, individuals, industry, sportsmen and environmental groups.”

Dorsey’s career with Colorado Parks and Wildlife started in 1991 as a district wildlife manager in Boulder. In 1997, she transferred to the agency’s education section in Denver as a special projects coordinator and eventually she took the job as statewide hunter education administrator. She moved to Durango in 2003 to take her current job as wildlife manager for Area 15.

“This award comes from a long-standing conservation organization and I was nominated by my peers, so I am very honored,” Dorsey said. “There are a lot of great wildlife officers in Colorado and I’m proud to be called one of them.”

Dorsey is an avid hunter and angler who grew up in Loveland and spent lots of time on her grandparents’ farm near Proctor on Colorado’s eastern plains. She started hunting with her father and grandfather when she was nine years old. She explained that one of her inspirations for learning about wildlife was her grandmother who was a school teacher and an avid naturalist.

“She knew the name of every songbird and she could identify every animal track. She’d show us where the ducks were and then she’d cook them when we brought them home,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey graduated from Colorado State University in 1985 with a degree in wildlife biology.

Even after 20 years, she’s still challenged by the job.

“What I really enjoy is the variety. I never know what I’ll be doing on any given day. I might be in a meeting talking about a conservation project in the morning and out chasing bears in the afternoon,” she said.

More than anything, she wants to continue teaching people about wildlife conservation and make sure wildlife is sustained.

Said Dorsey: “There are only about 200 wildlife officers in our state of 5 million people.  Working with people to create a heightened awareness of wildlife is critical to assure that we have healthy wildlife population in the future. Wildlife officers can’t do it all. It will take all of us working together.”

Representatives from the Shikar-Safari Club presented Dorsey with the award on Jan. 10 at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting in Denver.

This story was posted on January 17, 2013.