Department of Wildlife Resources Recognizes Wildlife Center Staff

On May 23, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources hosted a public meeting of the Board of Wildlife Resources. At that meeting, DWR officials recognized several Wildlife Center of Virginia staff members, including President Emeritus Ed Clark, who retired in March 2024,  as well as the bear care team – the wildlife rehabilitators and veterinary staff, past and present, who have rehabilitated and released nearly 100 young Black Bears during the past 11 years.

Executive Director Ryan Brown honored Clark for his 42-year career in wildlife conservation, presenting him with a plaque for his "unparalleled service" in the leadership of the Wildlife Center and conservation of wildlife.

“It was really a special day,” commented Ed. “I certainly accepted it on behalf of ALL who have helped make the Wildlife Center of Virginia what it is today. I did not do it alone!”

DWR staff also recognized the Wildlife Center’s orphaned bear cub rehabilitation program and the Center’s bear care team for their “countless hours working with bears.” DWR Biologist Katie Martin – who was also recognized at the meeting, receiving the VA Chapter of Wildlife Society Mosby Award – delivered a heartfelt speech:

“They say it takes a village to raise a child … well, try raising a Black Bear cub or five or 12 or … 26!!! You’re going to need a very big village! Thankfully, here in Virginia, we have a wonderful village. Since 2012, The Wildlife Center of Virginia has been housing orphan bear cubs with the intent for release back to the wild.

“… If you talk to the staff who do this work day in and day out, they never complain about any of this. They’re there for all of it, smiling, laughing, and just getting it all done day after day. Bears are also not their only job duty! During the spring, young wildlife of all varieties and sizes are coming to the Center day in and out. The veterinary staff and rehabilitation staff are constantly on the go and caring for any number of animals in various states of disrepair all year long. 

“… While the WCV as a whole certainly receives a lot of well-deserved recognition for the amazing work they do with numerous species, the DWR bear team wanted to take a moment to recognize the efforts of those who devote so much of their time to Black Bears. Since the orphan cub rehab program began, we have been privileged to work with many great team members.”

Center staff rehabilitators Alex Olvera and Mac Stewart attended the meeting. Mac said, “I am very grateful to be recognized for the time, resources, and effort we put in every day to raise these cubs. It’s no easy feat and we couldn’t do it without DWR or our entire bear care team. There are long days and disheartening moments but it is truly all worth it to realize the impact we are making in the lives of every single cub that we raise year after year. I am honored to be a part of such a special team.”

Alex added, “It was a very humbling moment sitting next to Ed and several DWR officials, hearing all the recognitions (especially from Katie Martin, with whom we work closely) was a special feeling and a reminder that we work with such amazing people! It was truly a very proud moment to be able to stand next to Mac and represent WCV in ‘the big leagues,’ as Ed stated. It was a true testament to the hard work and dedication that each team member, both present and former, brings every day. This acknowledgment fuels our commitment to continue achieving excellent animal care and rehabilitation of wildlife and contribute to conservation in preserving our native fauna. Super proud to be a member and a ‘Bear Mom’ at the Wildlife Center of Virginia.”

The Wildlife Center is grateful for our partnership with the Department of Wildlife Resources. Their collaboration is vital to our mission as a teaching and research hospital for native wildlife.