Outdoors: West Virginia DNR staffers receive recognition

Two members of the staff of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources have been recognized by the state chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation for their efforts in game management, conservation, enforcing wildlife laws and promoting hunter safety.

Wildlife Manager Michael Craig McDougal was presented the Making Tracks Award and Natural Resources Police Officer Justin Stewart was given the Sharp Spur Award by Chapter President Jeff Jones during the foundation’s annual awards banquet in January.

Stewart was recognized for his law enforcement efforts in 2018. He and Officer Randy Cremeans contacted the West Virginia Army National Guard, which provided a helicopter to locate numerous illegal turkey bait sites in Wood, Tyler and Ritchie counties. Locating these bait sites spurred investigations that led to numerous individuals being caught and prosecuted

Stewart also has been a dedicated mentor to the younger generation of sportsmen and women. He has attended the JAKES Day program for the past five years, talking with kids about having fun and being safe during a turkey hunt.

He is also a passionate hunter education instructor who promotes turkey hunting to the children of Wood County.

Stewart’s passion for conservation doesn’t end when he is off duty. He has spent many personal days conducting habitat improvement projects for the eastern wild turkey on his personal farm and other properties.

Each year, the foundation recognizes a DNR wildlife manager who demonstrates outstanding efforts in the management and conservation of wild turkey and other wildlife resources. McDougal has been the wildlife manager on the Pleasant Creek, Center Branch and Pruntytown State Farm Wildlife Management areas in Barbour, Harrison and Taylor counties since 2009.

He was chosen in recognition of his work in habitat improvement, including timber sales, border cuts, mourning dove fields, and young forest habitat and wetlands management that benefit many different species of wildlife, as well as hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts.

McDougal is from Taylor County and is an active hunter, trapper and fisherman. He also enjoys riding UTVs with his family.