“I once read that the job of a wildlife biologist is getting yelled at by the landowner when there are too many deer and getting yelled at by the hunter when there are too few deer,” Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Dean Waltee said of what he does as a wildlife biologist. “Both are always the case.”
Born and raised in Butte, Waltee earned a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from Montana Tech in 2005 and a Masters of interdisciplinary studies – wildlife biology, wildlife disease ecology and research design – from the University of Montana in 2007. He began working with FWP during those college years as a summer laborer in the region. Waltee continued working for FWP as a wildlife conservation technician in Miles City and wildlife management biologist in Broadus. It was there that he said he received a true education in wildlife management from Region 7 wildlife program manager John Ensign.
Waltee recently moved from his previous position in Broadus to his new role as a wildlife biologist for the Ruby Valley. He said he has a lot to learn taking over a large and diverse area but expects to hit the ground running and learn quickly.
“I’m looking forward to getting out and meeting folks on the ground,” Waltee said. He added that he shares many of the same interests as other southwest Montana residents – hunting, fishing and trapping. “My passions for these activities initiated my interest in a career focused on conserving wildlife resources and maintaining hunting and trapping opportunities for current and future generations.”
Almost two months into his new position, Waltee also draws inspiration from the everyday do-it-themselves sportsmen who respect game laws, and the private landowners who willingly support a large portion of our wildlife, annually endure the problem minority and continue to share their lands with sportsmen. He said he enjoys working with any person dedicated to finding ways to maintain Montana’s neighborly handshake culture and multi-use way of life.
Waltee said it’s not just the hunters, trappers and fishermen who depend on him and others in his position to do their job. He said wildlife management is important because so many people from all walks of life enjoy wildlife resources and demand those resources be well-maintained for the future but there are some changes and quirks that have popped up over the years.
“Social tolerance for some wildlife species or unchecked populations of others no longer exists everywhere,” Waltee said. “Philosophies on wildlife management vary widely. Our job as wildlife managers is to use the best available biological and social sciences to implement management programs that maximize wildlife resources and public opportunity to utilize and enjoy those resources while staying within social tolerances and minimizing negative impacts to society.”
Waltee will be working out of a home office in Sheridan and can be reached at 842-7404.