Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

July 28, 2011
11-60   

Contact:  Diane Katzenberger 303-236-4578

Distinguished Biologist Central to the Gray Wolf Reintroduction Effort Retires From the Fish and Wildlife Service

Steve FrittsWith his recent retirement, Dr. Steven H. Fritts concluded his distinguished 32-year career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).

In recognition of his significant contributions to the conservation mission of the Fish and Wildlife Service, most notably as the chief scientist for the gray wolf recovery program in the Western United States, Fritts was presented with the Meritorious Service Award, the Department of the Interior’s second highest honor. 
 
Fritts began his career with the Service in 1979 managing the gray wolf depredation control program in Minnesota.  In 1984, he transferred to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center serving as a Section Leader and then Deputy Branch Chief in the Endangered Species Research Branch overseeing species research, including research on the gray wolf.  In 1989, Fritts was selected as the first Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Coordinator and led the wolf recovery effort, through multi-agency coordination, to successfully translocate wolves from Canada to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in 1995 and 1996.

“The gray wolf introduction was the focus of national and international attention, and Dr. Fritts worked diligently to ensure the recovery activities were scientifically based,” said Steve Guertin, Director of the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region.  “In planning the reintroduction, he had to resolve a multitude of unique biological and logistical issues in a complex political and legal working environment.”

With the wolves on the ground and the reintroduction complete, Fritts became the primary wildlife biologist for the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR) in Denver, Colorado reviewing and approving all wildlife research grants for the eight states in the Mountain-Prairie Region (Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Utah).

“Among his colleagues, Fritts is highly respected and considered a man of deep integrity and honorable character who is consistently thoughtful and considerate to all who have worked beside him,” said Region 6 WSFR Chief David McGillivary.

Fritts attributes his success to his wife Diana, who supported him unconditionally throughout his conservation career.  Fritts plans to remain involved with wolf conservation through several scientific endeavors.

Photo Caption: Dr. Steve Fritts Photo credit: Wolf International, Summer Issue, 1995

Photo available at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/5985117208/in/photostream

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