Chuck Sykes, Director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, and an Auburn University alumnus, was elected president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, or AFWA, during its 113th Annual Meeting in Calgary, Canada.
Expressing his gratitude and commitment to fish and wildlife conservation, Sykes said, “My life has always been about conservation. This job is often not glamorous and not thanked. But the work our state agencies do is extremely important, and I am honored to be selected to serve as President of AFWA.”
Sykes is an advisory council member in Auburn’s College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment (CFWE), and has been a public voice for sound wildlife management in Alabama for many years. With this appointment, Sykes will bring his extensive experience and passion for wildlife conservation and management to the national stage.
Sykes says his focus as president will be supporting the AFWA’s legislative priorities.
One of the organization’s chief legislative priorities is a proposed Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would provide funds annually to state fish and wildlife agencies as well as Indian Tribes for proactive conservation, ideally securing species of concern before the need to list them under the Endangered Species Act. Other priorities focus on preventing wildlife-vehicle collisions, funding for outdoor recreation infrastructure projects that would spur economic development, and action to combat the spread of animal diseases that jump to human populations.
“We are proud to see Chuck Sykes representing our college and the state of Alabama at the international level,” said Janaki Alavalapati, the Emmett F. Thompson Dean of the CFWE. “His knowledge and experience will make him an excellent leader in the face of today’s challenges.”
Chuck Sykes has been the Director of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries at the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources since December 2012. An avid hunter since age six, Sykes earned a degree in wildlife management from Auburn University and began his career as a hunting guide before graduating. Over the years, his career path has included management of commercial hunting lodges, founding a full-service natural resource consulting firm, and the creation and hosting of a television show dedicated to wildlife management and habitat restoration.
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. In the organization’s 121-year history, Sykes is the fourth president to serve from the state of Alabama.
Sykes is committed to conservation, Alabama’s hunting heritage, and protecting our wildlife and related natural resources. Among his notable achievements has been the inclusion of new participants in hunting and fishing through the creation of Special Opportunity Areas and the Alabama Adult Mentored Hunting Program. He involves young people, non-hunters, men, and women in sharing and promoting conservation efforts. Sykes has lived in the Montgomery area for over 20 years, is happily married to his wife Gigi, and is the proud father of Syd, a 12-year-old miniature Australian Shepard. He also assists his father, Willie Sykes, with their family Charolais farm.
NEWS PROVIDED BY
Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
October 4, 2023
Adapted by Jessica Nelson