A New England native currently completing work for a Ph.D. in wildlife management at Michigan State University has been named the black bear project leader for the Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service, a position long held by Harry Spiker, who has been promoted to an associate director post with the agency.
Jonathan Trudeau, who will live in Garrett County with his wife and two daughters, will also wear a second hat as co-deer project leader along with George Timko.
“I’m ready to get to work. These are the two species I am most passionate about,” Trudeau said during a recent phone interview. “I have done research with both bears and deer.”
Trudeau added he is eager to begin working with other agency staffers and with the public. “These animals are held in the public trust so I am always willing to hear from people, both hunters and nonhunters, which are often the source of good ideas.”
As did Spiker, Trudeau will work out of the Mount Nebo office of the Wildlife and Heritage Service, located along U.S. Route 219 north of Oakland.
Trudeau grew up in a hunting family in northeastern Connecticut. “Our lives revolved around hunting. My parents got married in March so it wouldn’t interfere with the fall hunting seasons. I began hunting, trapping and fishing at a young age. We owned 20 wooded acres.”
Trudeau earned a master’s degree in biology in 2017 from Ball State University. He is currently enrolled as a doctoral student at Michigan State University in the Boone and Crockett Quantitative Wildlife Center where he is in his final year of study. He has spent the past eight years researching white-tailed deer, utilizing cutting-edge methodology to answer questions about deer movement and habitat selection in relation to the spread of chronic wasting disease in Midwestern states, according to Karina Stonesifer, associate director for game management.
A good portion of Trudeau’s research has dealt with big game in urban and suburban settings. “I have a strong analytical background in the kind of research that can be applied to game management,” he said.
Trudeau comes on board as the wildlife agency has expanded bear hunting opportunity by adding a weekend day to the season. Instead of a Monday through Friday hunt in late October, the season will now be Monday through Saturday. The hunt continues to take place in the state’s four western counties of Garrett, Allegany, Washington and Frederick. Hunting is available only to those who draw a permit via an annual lottery and to those they name to hunt with them. There were 950 permits issued for the 2021 hunt, during which the harvest dropped significantly from previous years to just 54 bears.
“Jonthan will play a critical role in the development of our next black bear management plan and the first-ever sika deer management plan,” said WHS Director Paul Peditto. “He will also be a key member of the team responsible for the scientific foundation that guides our decisions on all game mammals going forward.
“His academic and practical skills pair seamlessly with the background and institutional knowledge from our current team members — especially our game species leadership in Karina Stonesifer and Brian Eyler.”
Eyler, the former deer project leader, has been named game mammal section leader.
“That team will align perfectly with Harry Spiker and his knowledge, experience and background — this is particularly critical as Harry transitions into his new role as associate director of our statewide operations corps.
“I am incredibly excited to have Jonathan make the commitment to joining our game management team and extended WHS family,” Peditto said.
Mike Sawyers retired in 2018 as outdoor editor of the Cumberland Times-News. His column now appears every other Saturday as well as in the quarterly Rod & Gun. To order his book, “Native Queen, a celebration of the hunting and fishing life,” send him a check for $15 to 16415 Lakewood Drive, Rawlings, MD 21557.