The Arizona Game and Fish Department awarded Todd Buck, Kanab, the 2021 field operations division Wildlife Manager of the Year award last month. 

Buck has been a wildlife manager in unit 12a, which covers the Kaibab Plateau, for 29 years. With these decades of experience, Buck shows his uncommon and highly valuable level of devotion and commitment.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, the state of Arizona, and the world-renown north Kaibab mule deer herd have benefited immensely from Buck’s management and stewardship on the Arizona Strip. Buck is an incredible field biologist, conservation officer, dedicated family man and highly respected member of his community. He has a deep passion for the full spectrum of wildlife manager responsibilities and has applied this passion with a great sense of humor for decades. 

Some of these responsibilities include Buck’s work as a field training officer, developing future generations of wildlife managers, and as a fire arms instructor thoughtfully honing survival skills of his fellow officers. 

Buck has steadfastly provided years of high quality service. His actions during and after the 72,000 acre Mangum Fire in 2020, were especially notable, where he was a remarkable example of his huge impact as a conservation professional. This incident consumed a vast area of unit 12a deer habitat and wiped out over 13 wildlife and cooperative water attachments. 

While the fire was actively burning, Buck was instrumental in leveraging his extensive relationships in district knowledge to assist other agencies in evacuations and resource protection. Buck assisted a rancher in rounding up and evacuating cattle, which were in jeopardy from the fire. 

Buck then went to work with post fire recovery teams and the NRCS to secure 1.5 million dollars in funding to help large areas of the burn. Buck went on to secure an additional 600,000 dollars in funding to successfully repair and replace water infrastructures that were damaged by the fire. 

Buck approaches his law enforcement duties with a sense of duty and service, exemplifying the role of a wildlife manager in Arizona and acts as a living example of the game ranger philosophy. 

Buck thanks Luke Thompson for nominating him for this prestigious award, the selection committee for selecting him and his family for all the years of support. “I can’t tell you what an honor it is to receive this award and how much I appreciate it,” Buck said in response to receiving the award.