Steve Cain Receives Award for Professional Excellence in Natural Resources

Steve Cain, Grand Teton NP Senior Wildlife Biologist
March 8, 2010
Steve Cain, senior wildlife biologist at Grand Teton National Park, recently received the National Park Service Intermountain Region Director’s 2009 award for professional excellence in natural resources. This annual award recognizes outstanding contributions in a specific natural resource field, and salutes individual accomplishments in advancing the science and successes of natural resource management by National Park Service (NPS) employees throughout the Intermountain Region.

Cain’s outstanding contributions include: research, collaboration and impetus for an initiative to protect the migration corridor for pronghorn that summer in Grand Teton National Park and winter in the Upper Green River Basin; monitoring efforts and strategic planning for the past two decades with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team to help recover the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly population; initiation of studies to document the effects of a newly constructed multi-use pathway on bears, birds, and elk ; introduction of a non-lead ammunition program for Grand Teton rangers and hunters participating in the annual elk reduction program on park lands; inspiration of a $500,000 donation from the Grand Teton National Park Foundation to support a five-year monitoring program for gray wolves in the park; and overseeing establishment of a pika inventory and monitoring project to document the population and track effects of climate change on pikas living in the Teton Range.

During Cain’s career at Grand Teton—which spans nearly 20 years— he has accomplished major changes in wildlife and resource management practices and worked closely with federal and state wildlife managers, collaborating on programs that span the GYE. Cain has raised the profile of the NPS policy regarding natural processes, native species and the need for science-based management in the park. Cain, and many others, made significant contributions to the 2007 Bison and Elk Management Plan for Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge, which aims to reduce the reliance of elk and bison on supplemental feed and reduce the risk of disease transmission. Cain has authored several peer-reviewed publications on pronghorn migration, bison ecology, and other wildlife issues in Jackson Hole, leading to better awareness of management challenges in the park and surrounding areas.

In acknowledging the individual accomplishments of Cain, Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott stated, “We are so proud of Steve’s lengthy NPS service and dedication to the natural resources of Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole and the Greater Yellowstone Area. He is a key force in the increased understanding and preservation of wildlife that make this such a special landscape.” Scott added, “Steve consistently makes science-based recommendations, and suggests adaptive and cooperative approaches that promote and improve resource management. His efforts have been critical to the conservation of species in Grand Teton and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and he sets a superb example for others to follow.”

Cain will receive an eagle sculpture plaque, along with his award certificate. He and other regional award winners will be considered for a service-wide award to be presented by the NPS Director in Washington later this spring.