Randy Smith counts waterfowl in 2007, during his first year with the Illinois Natural History Survey. Photos by Chris Young.
Randy Smith named DNR wetland program manager
The State Journal-Register
Randy Smith, a waterfowl scientist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, has joined the Illinois Department of Natural Resources as wetland program manger.
That makes Smith the state’s top waterfowl scientist, and he replaces Ray Marshalla who retired last May.
Smith worked at the INHS Forbes Biological Station near Havana since 2007.
He graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point where he majored in wildlife and biology, and earned a Master’s degree from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, where he studied waterfowl habitat
rehabilitation and spring migration ecology.
At the Forbes station, Smith studied waterfowl migration and feeding ecology, shorebirds, and wetland management and ecology.
“It’s a hard place to walk away from, with all of its history,” Smith said.
Randy Smith bands a lesser scaup held by Steve Havera, director emeritus of the Forbes Biological Station.
DNR director Marc Miller said the wetland program position is “critically important to the Department’s efforts to protect waterfowl habitat and improve public migratory waterfowl areas within the state.
“Randy brings a wealth of experience to the job,” Miller said in a statement.
“He’s a proponent of duck hunting, habitat management and harvest management,” said Heath Hagy, director of the Forbes Station and Smith’s former boss.
“He’s a good scientist, first and foremost,” Hagy said. “And he’ll do a good job serving the hunters and constituents of the state.”
Aaron Yetter and Randy Smith (right) of the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Forbes Biological Station collect macro-invertebrates in 2009 as they study what kinds of food are available for migrating birds – particularly ducks.
Smith’s job will include the development of a plan to prioritize efforts to protect, restore, purchase or re-create wetlands.
In addition, he will have the responsibility of working with other biologists and wetland managers in the Mississippi Flyway Technical Section to help set season dates and bag limits.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge,” Smith said of his new job. “The biggest thing is the wetlands campaign and the goal is to have a wetland campaign up and running shortly.”
Next week, Smith will attend the North American Duck Symposium in Memphis, Tenn.
“Most of the top biologists, researchers and managers in North America attend,” he said.
Duck hunters will get a chance to meet Smith when he joins a panel discussion at the Illinois State Ducks Unlimited Convention in East Peoria, Feb. 16 – 17.
Working with rank-and-file hunters is nothing new for Smith.
“That’s kind of ongoing,” he said. “Even in my previous role, I would hear from duck hunters.
“When things are good you hear about it, but when things are bad - like they were for a lot of guys this year - you hear about it more.”
Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528.
Read about Randy Smith’s contributions to a diving duck study undertaken last spring: http://www.sj-r.com/features/x221040359/Catch-and-release-project-helps-evaluate-Illinois-River-habitat
Watch a video about the study: