The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks has hired its next wildlife bureau chief, and despite going outside the agency to get him, he’s a known entity.

Russ Walsh, a native of Amite County, was named Wildlife Executive Staff Officer, the agency announced Friday. He returns to the MDWFP after serving as a biologist for Partners for Fish and Wildlife with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Before that, he was a biologist with the MDWFP for almost six years, including roles as regional biologist and a coordinator for the agency’s landowner incentive program.

“We are pleased to have Russ Walsh back in the agency and are confident that his technical and leadership abilities will continue to advance the Wildlife Bureau,” Executive Director Dr. Sam Polles said in Friday’s news release.

Walsh replaces Chad Dacus, who left the agency late in 2016 to join the Mississippi State University Wildlife Extension program.

As the senior wildlife official, Walsh will be involved in formulating and directing a comprehensive statewide program to conserve and manage the wildlife resources of Mississippi. He will also be looking for an assistant to help guide the wildlife bureau and a new coordinator for the white-tailed deer program. 

“The MDWFP has the largest conservation footprint in the state,” Walsh said. “I have a strong dedication to the department and thoroughly support its mission. I look forward to working with a great organization to advance conservation efforts.

“I’m humbled and honored for the opportunity to serve as Wildlife Executive Staff Officer. The bureau handles a diverse array of tasks and challenges daily. It’s a privilege to be a part a dedicated team that strives to have a positive impact for natural resources.”

Walsh initially served with the MDWFP as a district biologist in South Mississippi and coordinated the Landowner Incentive Program. In 2007, he assisted with establishing the Private Lands Habitat Program and served as a private lands biologist until he was hired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Walsh received a bachelor’s degree in forestry and wildlife management from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree in forest resources from Oklahoma State University.