Agriculture

Sheldon Owen Owen_Sheldon2

WVU Extension Specialist—
Wildlife Specialist

West Virginia University Extension Service’s Wildlife Specialist Sheldon Owen is no stranger to the natural world. Using his knowledge and expertise, he researches and monitors a variety of flora and fauna throughout the state.

“I encourage everyone to get out and explore the natural world around them,” Owen says.

Using his own extensive education and experience, he educates youths and adults about various aspects of nature. A lot of his outreach and education efforts involve white-tailed deer damage, coyote depredation and general wildlife habitat management.

“Wildlife management is a broad and diverse topic, and I am fortunate to have a great deal of diversity in my job,” he says. “I often have opportunities to speak about the natural histories of select wildlife species and other topics—it all depends on the interest of the audience.”

The Mississippi-native earned his bachelor’s degree in Forestry and Wildlife Management from Mississippi State University in 1998.

He later completed a master’s degree from the University of Georgia before earning his Ph.D. in Forest Resource Science at West Virginia University in 2003.

Some of his past research includes the ecology of forest dwelling bats and raccoons in association with intensive forest management. Using his research and the use of other studies as proof, Owen stresses the importance of conserving West Virginia’s wildlife populations.

Because of Owen’s broad range of experience in wildlife, he is able to look at issues in West Virginia with a multifaceted approach.

“We must consider the needs of wildlife and strike a balance with human interest when we make any land management decisions if we hope to maintain the diversity and health of West Virginia’s wildlife.”

Owen has worked with the National Wildlife Disease Program in South Carolina as a Wildlife Disease Biologist within USDA/APHIS Wildlife Services program. This organization serves to provide Federal leadership in managing issues associated with and caused by wildlife.

It was there he conducted monitoring and surveillance projects that involved dealing with various wildlife diseases such as Avian Influenza, Chronic Wasting Disease and several Feral Swine diseases.

He also served as a Supervisory Wildlife Biologist for the South Carolina Program of Wildlife Services.

Owen applies previous knowledge and experience to his current work and research in West Virginia.

“Unlike most southeastern states where development is rampant and forest ecosystems are declining, West Virginia is still 78 percent forested,” he says “and this forest ecosystem presents unique challenges and opportunities.”

His work in the state focuses on general wildlife management, white-tailed deer, as well as coyote depredation.

“West Virginia is a very unique ecosystem because of its topography, climate, vegetation and native wildlife,” he remarks.

Through his work, Owen encounters many citizens of the state.

“I really enjoy meeting and talking with landowners and the people of West Virginia, learning about how they manage their land to promote various wildlife species.”

Owen hopes his passion and enthusiasm for conservation and wildlife will spark an interest in others so that wildlife and wildlife habitats will continue to thrive for future generations.

Contact Owen at 304-293-2990, or e-mail Sheldon.Owen@mail.wvu.edu.