One of our favorite recurring topics here at NRA Family is showcased in our "Cool Outdoor Careers" column; so many of us dream of finding work doing what we love in the outdoors, and highlighting the ways in which your NRA family can do that is a pleasure. However, as often as we highlight the work of wildlife biologists and celebrate the trailblazers in that field, we do sometimes forget to mention something you should know. For example, you should know that if you're a wildlife biologist, you might just have a shot at immortality by discovering and having your name added to a new subspecies. That's what recently happened for Oklahoma Wildlife Department Mike Howery (pictured at left). How cool is that?
Howery's clubtail is a newly recognized dragonfly subspecies, discovered in 2011 by Victor W. Fazio III along Salt Creek, a tributary of the Arkansas River, in western Osage County. It was later investigated by the Oklahoma Biological Survey’s conservation biologists Michael A. Patten and Brenda D. Smith.
“We’re pleased to name this new subspecies in honor of Mark Howery, for his decades of dedication and important contributions to conservation of nongame wildlife in the state of Oklahoma,” said Smith.
Howery has been a part of the Wildlife Department’s conservation efforts for the past 28 years, focusing on our state’s rare, declining and endangered species along with common species that aren’t hunted or fished.
"This is a tremendous honor for a biologist and I was shocked to be recognized this way," Howery said. "The Wildlife Department values the full breadth of the wildlife in our state and I am honored to be connected to a species that is unique to our region and that embodies the kind of proactive, collaborative conservation that we strive to achieve through the State Wildlife Grants program."
“This announcement really brings us full circle. Michael A. Patten and I started this journey with a survey funded by the Wildlife Department’s State Wildlife Grants Program. Mark has been so supportive of our work that it felt right to recognize him in this way,” Smith said.
Patten and Smith were awarded the State Wildlife Grant in 2013 to conduct a three-year survey to determine the status, distribution and ecology of three springtime-emerging dragonflies considered to be of greatest conservation need, including the Ozark clubtail. The completed survey effectively doubled the number of known records of the target species, and can be found at wildlifedepartment.com.