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Henline Receives National Wildlife Manager of the Year Award

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The NWTF presented Chris Henline, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission conservation tech III (team leader) with the Joe Kurz Wildlife Manager of the Year Award for decades of outstanding wild turkey and wildlife habitat management.

February 18, 20243 min read

“When I first started my career, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission was in the middle of our turkey restoration program,” Henline said. “There was no greater sense of satisfaction than to catch turkeys in the morning and then release them on a new site that afternoon. Combining that with quality habitat management, I have been fortunate to watch the turkey population expand and grow across the state over my 29 years of service. The fact that I had a hand in reestablishing this great bird is one of the greatest accomplishments of my career. Turkey management has always been one of my favorite activities of this job, and I am so honored and humbled to be recognized by the NWTF for doing something that I truly enjoy.”

Henline received the Joe Kurz Wildlife Manager of the Year Award at the NWTF’s 48th annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show, sponsored by Mossy Oak.

The NWTF named the Joe Kurz Wildlife Manager of the Year Award after the former Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife chief for his leadership and the vital role he played in improving wildlife management efforts. Kurz also was a principal figure in wild turkey trap-and-transfer programs across North America.

Henline is a longtime employee of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission who began his career as a temporary employee on the Waynesville Wildlife Management crew nearly three decades ago.

After gaining enough experience to be qualified for a permanent position, Henline was hired as a wildlife technician II at the R. Wayne Bailey/Caswell Wildlife Depot. In the spring of 2004, Henline was promoted to the crew leader position of the Burnsville crew that manages the Sandy Mush Game Lands and over 100,000 acres on the Pisgah National Forest and additional NCWRC-owned game lands.  

Wild turkey numbers on Sandy Mush have reached robust levels resulting in the highest harvest rates per square mile of any game land in North Carolina. The ruffed grouse is also a common sight on parts of the Sandy Mush, which is not a common occurrence elsewhere in the region. Much of this success can be credited directly to Henline’s knowledge, skill and ability as a wildlife and land manager.

In January of 2020 the NCWRC partnered with North Carolina State University to undertake a “Multi-scale Assessment of Wild Turkey Ecology in North Carolina,” a project that would require trapping a large number of turkeys in a short amount of time. The portion of the project in the mountains fell within Henline’s work area, and when Henline learned about this project, he immediately went to work helping the project leader locate and secure 28 bait/trap sites in five different counties within a matter of weeks.

“With decades of boots-on-the-ground conservation experience, coupled with an immense desire to benefit North Carolina’s natural resources, Chris has demonstrated excellence in wildlife management and has been an asset to the wild turkey in the Tar Heel State,” NWTF co-CEO Kurt Dyroff said. “We are proud to recognize his efforts with the Joe Kurz Wildlife Manager of the Year Award.”

About the National Wild Turkey Federation  

Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has positively impacted over 23 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The NWTF has also invested over $9 million into wild turkey research to guide the management of the wild turkey population and to ensure sustainable populations into perpetuity. The organization continues to deliver its mission by working across boundaries on a landscape scale through its Four Shared Values: clean and abundant water, healthy forests and wildlife habitat, resilient communities, and robust recreational opportunities. With the help of its dedicated members, partners and staff, the NWTF continues its work to provide Healthy Habitats. and Healthy Harvests. for future generations. 

Filed Under:
  • Convention and Sport Show
  • Healthy Habitats
  • Healthy Harvests
  • Land Management
  • Wild Turkey Research
  • Wildlife Management