He loved those sheep,
Tom Emmanuel about his years
working with manager Cecil
Kennedy at San Andres National
Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. A
tribute in the Las Cruces Sun
News wrote that he was legendary
in his own time because of the
excellent care and love Kennedy
poured over the sheep.
No desert bighorn sheep had
been sighted for years when the
refuge was established in 1941, and
Kennedys predecessor, Arthur
Halloran, began orchestrating their
comeback. The sheep population
continued to grow steadily under
Kennedys management. It now
numbers 120130 animals in the
San Andres Mountains.
Kennedy started working at San Andres
Refuge in maintenance and was named
manager in 1945at a salary of $3,350.
He held the position until his retirement
in 1968. Former U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service Director Lynn Greenwalt
called Kennedy a reallife cowboy and
San Andres Refuge is 57, 215 acres of
rugged Chihuahuan desert mountains
and canyons, and it is now
completely surrounded by the
White Sands Missile Range.
Kennedy was among the last
managers at the refuge to count
sheep only from the ground. In
1968, the refuge began combining
ground and helicopter counts.
Before that, at least four men on
horseback or foot would cover
both slopes of a survey unit, riding
along the mountain contour for the
length of the slope.
He looked like John Wayne,
said Emmanuel. He was daring
on horseback. He would do things
others would consider risky to
cover the area. He was very good
at what he did.
Kennedy received the Woodmen of
the World Award in 1967 and the
Department of the Interiors
Commendable Service Award in 1969 for
his contributions to conservation.