Friday, May 27, 2016

New deer biologist and mammologist join IN DNR

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has a new deer biologist and a new mammologist.

Joe Caudell, the deer biologist, joins the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife from Murray State University in Kentucky, where he had served as assistant professor of wildlife since 2013. He also has served as an adjunct professor in Purdue University's Department of Forestry and Natural Resources since 2011.

Taylor Rasmussen, the new mammologist, joins DNR Fish & Wildlife after earning his master's degree in biological sciences with a focus on small mammal ecology from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. He earned his undergraduate degree in biology from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, in 2012.

"The Division of Fish & Wildlife has brought on highly qualified biologists to take on two important roles in the Division," said Mark Reiter, Division of Fish & Wildlife director. "We are fortunate to be able to select candidates with experience and advanced degrees to help adapt and move our Wildlife Science Program forward."

Caudell, who earned his doctorate in wildlife biology from Utah State University in 2001, served as wildlife disease biologist for U.S. Department of Agriculture APHIS Wildlife Services in West Lafayette from 2005 to 2013. He lives on a 20-acre farm between Shoals and Loogootee.

Before working in West Lafayette, Caudell served as urban wildlife biologist for USDA APHIS in Las Vegas and as wildlife damage management specialist for the same organization in Augusta, Maine. He holds a master's degree from Utah State University in wildlife biology and a bachelor's degree in wildlife management from the University of Georgia.

"I have been working with deer since I started college," he said. "And this was a position that I'd always been interested in since moving to Indiana. It's a natural fit for me—I like working with deer."

As a person who grew up in the southeastern United States, he said he appreciates the size and quality of Indiana deer.

"The first time I worked a check station here about 14 years ago, I was just amazed at the size of deer that were coming in," he said. "I think the deer hunters here get a really good experience in terms of having high-quality deer."

He says his main challenge will be balancing the needs of hunters and people who are experiencing damage from deer, something that he is familiar with as a person who grew up on a farm and has continued to farm.

Rasmussen, a native of Sioux Falls, Iowa, worked with small mammals throughout his undergraduate and graduate years.

"I like working with animals that are often overlooked, such as the smaller animals and the endangered and threatened animals as well," he said.

Rasmussen did projects on the Franklin's ground squirrel while at Morningside and Fort Hays State and is especially interested in continuing to work with that state-endangered species in Indiana, as well as with bats.

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