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Dwight Cooley Selected as Refuge Manager at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge


November 29, 2001

Christine Eustis, 404/679-7287

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that Dwight Cooley has been selected to manage Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge near Decatur, Alabama. Cooley, a 21-year veteran of the agency, has spent the last 14 years of his Service career working within the refuge system, after working in Ecological Services for the first seven years. His most recent job was as Deputy Refuge Manager at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge overseeing all aspects of refuge management at Wheeler, Key Cave, Sauta Cave, Fern Cave, and Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuges.

"I am thrilled to announce the selection of Dwight Cooley as the new Refuge Manager," said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director. "Dwight has been at Wheeler for the past four years and has done an outstanding job managing the refuge. He is the perfect choice to take the helm as refuge manager. I am pleased to share this news during Wheeler's Wildlife Festival that begins this weekend. The community can be assured that the Service has selected the right person for Wheeler."

Before overseeing management activities at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Cooley was Deputy Refuge Manager at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in Manteo, North Carolina. Other refuges where Cooley has worked include Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge in Gautier, Mississippi, and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville, Florida. Cooley began his Service career as a wildlife biologist at the Ecological Services Field Office in Decatur, Alabama, subsequently working at the Ecological Services Field Office in Daphne, Alabama. He earned a B.S. in Biology from Athens College in Alabama and a M.S. in Zoology/Wildlife from Mississippi State University.

"I are very excited about the opportunity to continue the long tradition of resource management and public cooperation at this refuge," said Cooley. "I look forward to working with the people of north Alabama to protect and manage the unique ecological attributes of Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge and the National Wildlife Refuge System for future generations."

Cooley was born in Athens, Alabama, and has enjoyed working on some of the "jewels" of the National Wildlife Refuge System. He and his wife, Debbie, spend as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors. When he is not birding, he can be found fishing, gardening, reading, or gazing at the night skies.

Cooley replaces Tuck Stone who recently retired as manager of Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System that encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at Our national home page is at:

Atlanta, GA 30345

Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

2001 News Releases

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