Lucius (Luke) Harvard has been named Wildlife Specialist of the Year for 2013 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services (WS) Eastern Region.
He was cited for his dedication, professionalism, and work ethic in the nomination by USDA Wildlife Services-Georgia director Steven H. Smith.
Joining the wildlife damage management program in 2004, Harvard worked on the Gamebird Restoration Project in South Georgia including Tall Timbers Research Station.
He conducted predator control as part of the project’s multi-pronged approach to increase populations of ground-nesting birds. Some of his work continues to improve bobwhite quail populations by managing predators, primarily armadillo, raccoon and opossum.
“Anyone who works for Wildlife Services has a passion for the work,” Harvard said.
“You need to have that. It is being outdoors, being with wildlife, and helping the public solve problems while maintaining the integrity of the species,” he explained.
As a wildlife specialist, Harvard works in a wide variety of projects including beaver damage management. He participates in a program to distribute oral rabies vaccination baits in north Georgia and other states to reduce rabies in wild raccoons and create a barrier to prevent the spread of rabies beyond the Appalachian Mountains.
Students identify his trapping lab as one of the favorite field experiences in the University of Georgia’s Wildlife Damage Management class. He also has begun to teach the lab as part of a plantations operations course at Southwest Georgia Technical College.
When the WS airport biologist at Moody Air Force Base was deployed to Iraq, Harvard worked two days a week at the base to assist with bird-aircraft strike hazard reduction activities.
Beaver damage management in southwest Georgia seeks to protect water impoundments, native habitat and timber. Dismantling beaver dams can be accomplished manually or through explosives, and Harvard boasts an impeccable safety record as one of three explosives specialists in the Georgia WS program.
While adept at trapping beaver, required before dam removal, he is also known to advise property owners on how to wrap trees to prevent beaver damage instead of lethally removing the animals. He has designed a colony (multi-catch) trap, which is currently being tested and modified in field trials.
A 1991 graduate of Auburn University with a degree in Animal Science, Harvard continued studying when he joined the Federal government and earned qualification as a wildlife biologist. He regularly participates in career day events at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, sharing his enthusiasm for wildlife management with both high school and college students.
Harvard is one of nearly 200 wildlife specialists in the WS Eastern Region, which covers Maine to Minnesota and Louisiana to Puerto Rico. He was the 2012 Employee of the Year in the Georgia program.
Harvard is the father of three daughters and grandfather of six. He lives in Thomasville with his wife, Kim. He will receive the award from Eastern Region Director Charles Brown at a luncheon in Thomasville on Wednesday.