Dr. Krysten Schuler Named NDA’s Professional Deer Manager of the Year

The National Deer Association is pleased to name Dr. Krysten Schuler of New York as its 2021 Professional Deer Manager of the Year. Schuler is a wildlife disease ecologist and assistant research professor at Cornell University’s Wildlife Health Lab, and she serves on NDA’s Science and Research Advisory Committee.

“Dr. Schuler is a national leader when it comes to scientific wildlife management, and her work to help slow the spread of CWD in recent years particularly stands out,” said Nick Pinizzotto, NDA President and CEO. “In addition to her impressive work in the field and in the laboratory, she has been a great friend and resource to NDA having previously been a board member of the former National Deer Alliance and now serving on our critical Science and Research Advisory Committee.”

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is the single largest issue impacting the future of deer management and hunting, and Dr. Schuler’s work is making great strides in this arena. Schuler’s work on New York State’s Risk Minimization Plan and the Surveillance Optimization Project for Chronic Wasting Disease (SOP4CWD) has received national acclaim. In 2021 the SOP4CWD project has brought together 23 states and one province in eastern North American to allow data-sharing, visualization, and modeling to inform deer managers. It has taken a regional approach to providing free online tools to wildlife agencies that provide data for decision-making. This is the first large-scale effort of its kind related to CWD. The models created from this project will help deer managers allocate limited financial and personnel resources most efficiently and effectively for the benefit of deer and deer hunters. 

Schuler, who grew up in Pennsylvania, received a bachelor’s in biology from the University of Notre Dame, a master’s in wildlife ecology from Oklahoma State University, a PhD in wildlife sciences from South Dakota State University and is now a co-director of the Cornell University Wildlife Health Lab. For her PhD, she caught deer with helicopters, darted them, and trapped them to understand chronic wasting disease (CWD) as an emerging disease at Wind Cave National Park. She spent three years following her study deer around by foot, air, car, and horseback. Now, as a wildlife disease ecologist, she works on understanding the linkages between the animal, its environment, disease, and conditions or situations (including human activities) that may influence disease emergence.

Previous winners of NDA’s Professional Deer Manager of the Year Award include Land & Legacy, Bronson Strickland, Darren Boudreaux, Blake Hamilton, Mike Staten, Tony Vidrine, Vic Blanchard, Craig Harper, Dave Moreland, Karl V. Miller, Steve Shea, Erich Long, Rans Thomas, Grant Woods, Dave Edwards, Mickey Hellickson, Chris Pevey, and Gary Alt.