Gillette Wildlife Biologist Erika Peckham is selected as the 2019 Wyoming Game Wardens Association Wildlife Manager of the Year for her dedication to the wildlife resource of northeast Wyoming.
Peckham began work with Wyoming Game and Fish in 2008 as a habitat extension biologist and started as the Gillette wildlife biologist on Jan. 1, 2012.
Since that time, she has become very involved in the local community, working with area landowners, assisting with various education programs, helping new Gillette wardens learn about the area and implementing wildlife conservation and management activities.
“Erika has always been willing to help with hunter safety classes taught within her biologist district and is a favorite among students for her enthusiasm, knowledge and passion when it comes to teaching wildlife management and helping with range days for students,” said former North Gillette Game Warden Kristen DaVanon who nominated Peckham for the award. “Erika also staffs multiple check stations throughout the fall hunting season around Gillette, Buffalo, Kaycee and most notably, the Devils Tower check station. Working these check stations, sometimes by herself, Erika contacts hundreds of sportswomen and men every year. The best part of working side by side with Erika is that you can see her passion for wildlife in everything she does”
Peckham also recently initiated a mule deer movement study in the Rochelle Hills that is the first of its kind for that area.
In 2018 she was approached by a local coal mine that appropriates money every year to the research of wildlife around their mining operation and was interested in collaborating with the Wyoming Game and Fish. Working with local game wardens, she designed the movement study for the south Gillette portion of her biologist district. She presented the project to the mine and several other entities and was able to gain strong local support and funding for it. As a result, 35 mule deer does were fitted with GPS tracking collars in December 2019 that will record their movements for the next five years. Information obtained during the study will be used by Peckham and other wildlife managers to make future management decisions about the herd and allow habitat biologists to pinpoint areas that would benefit from habitat improvement projects.
“Erika has always been one who’s willing to help the Gillette game wardens at a moment’s notice to assist in tranquilizing or trapping mountain lions, black bears or assisting with injured wildlife,” said a former Gillette game warden who joined DaVanon in nominating Peckham for the award. “She’s also known for her long-term efforts to continually engage private landowners in the management of public wildlife through collaborative research projects and setting hunting seasons that benefit private landowners and the public equally.”