A Mississippi State University professor has been named Wildlife Conservationist of the Year by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation.

Steve Demarais, professor of wildlife ecology and management in MSU’s Forestry and Wildlife Research Center, received the honor at thefederation’s Feb. 16 meeting.

Demarais is the Dale H. Arner Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management and has spent three decades studying wildlife. For the last 15 years, he has worked specifically on various deer herd management techniques. He chairs the Deer Committee of the Southeastern section of The Wildlife Society, known as the Southeast Deer Study Group.

“Dr. Demarais enjoys resolving management issues using sound research approaches,” said Bruce Leopold, head of MSU’s Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Aquaculture. “His recommendations on white-tailed deer management have resulted in the development of policy and management recommendations for hunters, landowners and state agencies.”

Jimmy Bullock, MSU alumnus and manager of forest resource sustainability for the private investment and land management company Resource Management Service, praised Demarais for his dedication.

“Dr. Demarais has made Mississippi his home. Our state, our hunters and our natural resources are the better for it,” Bullock said. “He not only teaches about the issues that confront today’s wildlife professionals, but also gets immersed in addressing and solving the most difficult of those issues.”

Demarais’ love of hunting and fishing led him to pursue an education and career in wildlife ecology, and today he strives to share his passion, knowledge and experience with his own students.

“If you ask his graduate students, they will tell you he is a motivator, a mentor and a teacher who pushes them to excel,” Bullock said. “His legacy as a teacher will be written by his students and will help chart the way white-tailed deer and our natural resources are managed for decades to come.”

Demarais, a native of Massachusetts, received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts and his master’s and doctoral degrees from MSU.