BUFFALO — It is a rare but valuable person who leaves a legacy before their work is complete, and colleagues say that’s just what Buffalo Game Warden Jim Seeman is doing in Wyoming.
“His perspective for impeccable ethics has been really valuable, and he is always willing to help out, answer questions and help me understand the wildlife patterns in the area,” Buffalo wildlife biologist Cheyenne Stewart said.
“He may not think about a legacy, but he will leave and already has left a legacy, even though he is still in his position,” Stewart said.
Seeman was named 2019 Shikar-Safari Wildlife Officer of the Year for Wyoming. The award, given annually in every state and Canadian province by the Shikar-Safari Club International, honors an officer whose efforts during the year display outstanding performance and achievement. Seeman has worked for The Wyoming Game and Fish Department for 27 years, beginning his career in 1992 as a reservoir crew patrol officer before being promoted to a warden trainee. His district game warden assignments included the Casper, Cody and Sheridan regions. Warden Seeman transferred to the Buffalo game warden district in 2006 where he remains stationed today.
“Jim is known as a steadfast protector of Wyoming’s wildlife and throughout his career has been known as a skilled investigator and talented interviewer,” said Rick King, WGFD chief game warden.
“His diligent enforcement efforts are not restricted to high profile species. All wildlife is important to Jim.”
For Seeman, it is simple: Wyoming is a beautiful place, and he wants to do what he can to preserve the unique way of life in this state.
“A lot of people live here for the resources, the wildlife,” Seeman said. “I think to have those people involved all the way around is beneficial for all of us. It benefits the open spaces and wildlife as well. We really need the public support, and the public in Wyoming is unique. They really support us.”
Over the years, Seeman said he’s seen a subtle but steady drop in outdoor recreation, and has also seen efforts to recruit and retain involvement in hunting and fishing. In his time, the Legislature approved electronic licensing and lowered the age of hunting to 12. There is talk that the age of hunting could be lowered again, and the state also began its hunter mentor program since Seeman has been with the department.
“These things have been a huge success,” he said. “One of the big changes I’ve seen, and it is subtle, but has been loss of recruitment of people coming into hunting. A lot of people when I grew up, hunting and fishing was their pastime, but nationwide that is changing and something we are worried about … We are trying things to get younger people involved.”
Probably the biggest change he’s seen, though, is the introduction of GPS technology into the field for the WGFD and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
“When I started, GPS was available but very expensive, and now, of course, GPS is on everyone’s phones,” Seeman said.
For the WGFD, this has meant more accurate herd counts, real-time data on migration patterns and the ability to do extensive studies on elk, moose and other animals across the state.
“(Seeman) is an example of a game warden who has adapted to changing times, yet continues to preserve WGFD traditions and values,” said Craig Smith, Sheridan region wildlife supervisor. “Jim carries a high case load but is efficient with his work. He dedicates time to his family and personal life, and it provides him the balance many officers never realize.”
Among his peers, Seeman is known as a true professional without concern for the limelight, fanfare or notoriety. He has gained the respect of other law enforcement agencies, landowners, the hunting and fishing public and other WGFD employees.
“Although he takes pride in mentoring other game wardens, providing investigative advice and expertise, he also assists his peers with non-enforcement tasks like investigating livestock deaths caused by trophy game animals, collaring moose for research projects and assisting our Fish Division with backcountry fish sampling,” Smith said. “He is more than deserving to be honored as Wyoming’s 2019 Shikar-Safari Officer of the Year.”
For his part, Seeman said that every warden he has worked with demonstrates a commitment to Wyoming.
“These wardens put in so much time, and some of them live in remote areas and all are extremely dedicated, all of them,” Seeman said.
The Shikar-Safari Club International is an organization dedicated to preserving wildlife through sportsmanship and conservation. Warden Seeman will be recognized and presented his award on March 19 at the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission meeting in Cody.