Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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The Globe Gazette
CLEAR LAKE — So there's a black bear prowling near Floyd, mountain lions roaming Floyd County, an armadillo armadilloing in southeast Iowa — and we can’t call Ron ANDREWS because he's retired?
Are you serious?
Apparently the rumors — about Ron, not necessarily the critters — are true.
He has retired after nearly 44 years with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, having studied most every feathered and fur-bearing thing around.
"It's going to be a huge void for us, but for the general public as well," DNR spokesman Kevin BASKINS said. "Ron is the 'go-to' guy, the guy everybody in the state is quoting. He's just knowledgeable on so many levels."
"“Ron has always been a professional," said Willy SUCHY, a DNR wildlife research unit leader. "He does a great job of talking to people and getting the message out about conservation, what's important for wildlife. I look to him as a role model in a lot of ways."
ANDREWS, 67, a fur resource specialist, coordinated Iowa's trumpeter swan restoration program from its inception in the mid-1990's.
The big, graceful birds were absent in Iowa from 1883 to 1998. Now there are more than 40 free-flying nesting pairs.
"People are seeing swans, and they're exciting birds," ANDREWS said. "They draw a lot of attention."
He was also Iowa's river otter restoration coordinator, fielded at least one armadillo report, and studied red fox, coyotes, raccoons, kestrels, osprey, bobcats and skunks.
"I didn't think I'd enjoy being a skunk biologist. But the fascination, and the challenge of not getting sprayed were intriguing, to say the least," he said.
As coordinator of the osprey recovery effort in Clear Lake, ANDREWS persuaded his wife, Martha, to spend a night in an osprey hack box before the young birds arrived to stay for a couple weeks; they were released in hopes they'll return to nest in Iowa.
"She was hesitant but still willing to give it a try," he said. "I really have to thank my wife for being the wind beneath my wings, so to speak, in terms of allowing me to have the freedoms to travel in the state and do the work I've done.
"And the best part about all of these studies is, they've involved a lot of people, a lot of help from the public. And I truly have appreciated that over the many, many years.
Richard Johnson writes about people, places and things in the Globe Gazette. For comments or column ideas, call 421-0556. Send e-mail to email@example.com.
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2011
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