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A 24-year veteran of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has been named to take over the agency, filling the empty shoes left by the departure of Greg Sheehan, now serving as acting head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

To succeed Sheehan, Department of Natural Resources director Mike Styler selected DWR deputy director Mike Fowlks, who had previously served as the agency's legislative liaison and law enforcement chief. Fowlks has been interim director since Sheehan left last month.

"Successful management of Utah's wildlife requires nimble and forward-thinking leadership. That's exactly what Mike brings to the table. I am so impressed with his vision, proactive leadership and commitment to active wildlife management," Styler said. "Our wildlife is in outstanding shape and under his direction, I'm confident it will remain that way."

Fowlks began his career at the DWR as a field conservation officer and quickly worked his way through the ranks.

"I am excited and humbled at the opportunity to serve as the division's new director, and I share my predecessor's commitment to active, hands-on management of our wildlife resources. I believe that this is the only way to maintain thriving and robust wildlife populations," Fowlks said. "Utahns value wildlife. It's part of what makes our state such a special place to live. While challenges still exist, we are poised to handle them and excited to build partnerships that keep Utah's wildlife thriving."

His priorities are improving wildlife habitat and relationships with partners and the hunting and fishing public, according to an agency news release. DWR has launched a new emphasis on research and discovery, aimed at migration and habitat needs of wildlife.

Fowlks holds an undergraduate degree in zoology and animal biology from the University of Utah and graduated from the FBI National Academy for Law Enforcement Administrators and the National Conservation Leadership Institute.

Twitter: @brianmaffly

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