The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

By Steve Edwards
BCJ News 

Hunter VanDonsel is new Farm Bill Biologist in Chinook's USDA office


May 24, 2017

Hunter VanDonsel joined the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Chinook. The Helena native is working as a Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist, a position funded primarily by Pheasants Forever, Inc. with support from the NRCS and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP). VanDonsel will work with NRCS, Montana’s FWP and local landowners to promote creation and preservation of upland game bird and animal habitat. He said the position is funded through 2019.

VanDonsel graduated from Capital High School, in Helena, in 2012. He completed a degree in Wildlife Biology at the University of Montana, Missoula, in December, 2016 and came to the NRCS office in Chinook this past February.

While in college he worked several internships related to his major. He was a Mountain Lakes Intern in the Beartooth-Absaroka Wilderness, near Red Lodge, for one summer. He also worked for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks as a Wildlife Intern in Glasgow and Havre. During that summer he did wildlife surveys and worked at the Rookery Wildlife Management Area near Havre. He also did an internship with the Montana Department of Natural Resources as a Watershed Technician.

VanDonsel explained his role in helping landowners. He said, “While the NRCS focuses on improved ag and various conservation practices, my focus is land improvements and practices to help wildlife. When a landowner presents a need or a proposed project, my job is to help them find cost-share programs that will improve habitat for wildlife while accomplishing their goals.” Though the majority of the support for Vandonsel’s position comes from Pheasants Forever, Inc., he said, “Pheasants Forever’s mission is not just to improve conditions for pheasants but for all wildlife.”

Asked how he was drawn to wildlife biology as a career, he said, “Hunting brought me in to conservation. I’m an avid hunter and realized the importance of properly managing wildlife resources for future generations to continue to hunt. That involves proper resource management as well as ethical hunting practices.”

Looking to the future, VanDonsel said, “I love Montana and want to stay here to work and live. I have no specific future job in mind, but want to be directly involved in wildlife conservation, whatever type of job that turns out to be.”

The “Journal” welcomes Hunter VanDonsel to the area and wishes him success in his position with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.


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