Fulton Wildlife Conservation Officer Recognized
Whether you call them game protectors, game wardens or wildlife conservation officers, the purpose of the men in green is to “protect that which cannot protect itself.” For Fulton County WCO Kevin Mountz, that particular saying has proved to be a lifelong creed even prior to his joining forces with the Pennsylvania Game Commission 20 years ago.
As a youngster, he spent a great deal of time alongside his father, Lee, in the great outdoors – hunting squirrels and simply enjoying leisurely strolls through the forest. His 99-year-old uncle Nelson “Doc” Nailor also proved to be a role model for Mountz, avidly trapping a variety of wildlife well into his early 90s.
With so much emphasis over the years placed on hunting and trapping, it’s no wonder Mountz went on to work his way through the ranks of the Game Commission, first as a deputy in Juniata County, then as a dispatcher for the South Central Regional Office in Huntingdon and eventually as a member of the 23rd class of the Ross Leffler School of Conservation.
The knowledge and memories have served him well over the years and especially in his most recent and memorable accomplishment as the 2009 recipient of the Conservation Law Enforcement Chief’s Association (CLECA) Award for the state of Pennsylvania. Mountz was publicly recognized Monday during the Game Commission’s quarterly meeting in Harrisburg by Commission Executive Director Carl Roe, Board of Commissioners President Jay Delaney and Rich Palmer, director of the Bureau of Wildlife Protection.
In presenting Mountz with the CLECA Award, Palmer noted several factors were taken into consideration in selecting him from the pool of six candidates representing each of the six regions of the state. In particular, Palmer cited Mountz’s role in helping solve what is now known as “the Colorado case” in which wildlife was being unlawfully taken in Colorado and transported out of state. The wildlife conservation officer’s (WCO) working relationship with departments of natural resources in both Maryland and West Virginia as well as local state police was also cited.
Mountz was nominated for the award by the supervisory staff at the South Central Regional Office. As a result of earning top honors in the state, Mountz is currently among a group of nominees being considered for the CLECA New England states’ regional award.
Mountz, a native of Carlisle, told the “News” since his 20s he had dreamed of working for the Game Commission. One step toward achieving the ultimate goal of being a WCO was to serve as a deputy. Under the guidance of now retired WCO Dan Clark, Mountz learned firsthand how to trap bears and beavers, handle nuisance complaints and law enforcement issues.
During that five-year time span, Mountz took the civil service test on three occasions to become a WCO. In 1994, he was one of 21 individuals selected from a total 2,000 applicants for the 23rd class. Following the 38- week training process, which included 10 weeks of on-site field training, only 18 were able to make the final cut and graduate in March 1996.
Unlike some WCO trainees who may find field training to be overwhelming, Mountz jokingly recalls it as being a “wild ride” as he was quickly shuffled through Lancaster, Somerset, Fayette and Schuylkill counties. He fondly remembers his time with the late WCO Stanley Norris during training in Fayette County as being an “11-day blur” that eventually turned into a long and valuable friendship.
Mountz transferred to Fulton County in 2004 but only after logging stints in Greene County and southern Franklin County. “Fulton County was my goal,” Mountz said. “It was on my wish list from day one at the academy.”
With slightly more than five years remaining until his retirement, Mountz, 54, noted he is looking forward to spending his remaining time in Fulton County where he can concentrate on some of the more enjoyable aspects of the job ranging from hunter education and school programs to trapping nuisance bears and wild turkeys. His main goal prior to retirement, however, is getting more youths involved in hunting and trapping, which he deems not only wholesome and fulfilling but time well spent.
Unlike some jobs where workloads are seasonal or sporadic, Mountz stated he is busy year round even through the spring and summer months. “It’s so diversified and there are so many responsibilities that you’re always busy and there is always something to do,” he added.
Looking back at 2009, Mountz said he had an allaround outstanding season that can be directly attributed to his deputy force currently consisting of deputies Andy Carbaugh, Ashley Ramsey, Berley Souders and Bob Strait and to cooperation from local residents.
In addition to his normal duties, he is currently a member of the South Central Region Turkey Trapping Team and serves as a field training officer, firearms instructor and wildlife forensics instructor. He has been instrumental in providing field training to at least eight cadets over the last 10 years and is expecting to add two more to the roles this fall through the 28th class.
Mountz currently resides in the Hustontown area with his wife, Chanin, and stepson Logan.