The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) continued to rebuild the management of its wildlife division by naming veteran deer biologist William T. McKinley as Deer Program Coordinator.

McKinley joined the agency in 2001 as a district biologist and moved strictly to the deer program in 2003. He has served as Deer Program Leader and most recently as Enclosure Program Coordinator.

“I am excited about leading the management of one of Mississippi’s greatest natural treasures, the white-tailed deer,” McKinley said. “Working as a deer biologist for the last 16 years, I am aware of the dynamic nature of Mississippi’s deer herd. 

“New diseases are present in the herd and others threaten. There is an increased awareness of predator populations, such as coyotes, bobcats, and black bears. Wild hogs are proving to be a menace to deer management by threatening the herd through food competition, predation, and the possibility of disease transfer.”

McKinley said he’s aware of changing attitudes among the state’s huge deer hunter population.

“Hunter expectations are changing and so is Mississippi’s deer herd,” he said. “Research is needed to better understand and confront these changes and challenges. I look forward to working with hunters and policy makers in managing our deer herd into the future.” 

Mississippi recently announced changes in its deer management program, switching from three regions to five, and reducing the doe limits on most private and public lands.

McKinley’s hire officially fills a position left open since the resignation of former Deer Program Coordinator Lann Wilf, who left the agency in September of 2015 to join the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services.

The MDWFP recently announced it had filled the top two positions in the wildlife bureau by hiring Russ Walsh as Wildlife Executive Officer and Amy Blacklock as Director of Wildlife Resources. Blalock is the first female to hold an executive role in the bureau.