Joe Fortner has been named the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Wildlife Officer of the Year for the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA).
The award was announced by TWRA Boating and Law Enforcement Division Colonel Darren Rider.
Fortner serves as a wildlife officer in TWRA Region III District 31’s DeKalb County. He was selected among other TWRA law enforcement officers to become the state recipient. He will be recognized during the annual SEAFWA meeting in October, to be held this year in Baton Rouge, La. While assigned DeKalb County, Fortner works throughout the district’s 12 counties.
Also honored as their respective TWRA region and district selections were Ricky Lyle, Region I and Chase Taylor, District 11; Daniel Plunkett, Region II and Mark Vance, District 21; Marty Griffith, District 32: David Carpenter, Region IV and Jeff Roberson, District 41. The officers were selected for their efforts in teamwork, public outreach, innovation, attitude, leadership, achievements and accomplishments.
“It’s always a difficult situation when one officer is selected out of a group of officers that have all gone above and beyond the duty of ensuring Tennessee hunters, anglers and boaters are provided safe and enjoyable recreational opportunities,” said Rider. “All these officers are to be commended for their professionalism and efforts they displayed this year. All these officers had a fantastic year, but Joe really excelled in all aspects of his job. His achievements and accomplishments were outstanding.”
Among Fortner’s activities this past year, he conducted educational and outreach events that included a kids fishing rodeo, displaying the “Wildlife on Wheels” educational trailer, “Gigging for Grads,” and the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). He also assisted with several county fair exhibits providing information. He taught several hunter education, boater education and trapper education programs.
“Joe’s efforts in excellence and innovation were also great,” said Rider. He covers one of the premier trout fisheries in the state, the Caney Fork River, and has utilized the use of a kayak to reach these large crowds of anglers and paddlers.
“His determined law enforcement efforts resulted in 4,392 hunters, fishermen and boaters being inspected for compliance. These efforts produced a total of 147 court citations and warnings. He also assisted other officers with another 110 citations and warnings. Through his efforts on a simple tagging violation he ending up prosecuting a poaching ring that concluded with nine individuals being charged and found guilty of the illegal killing of 11 deer.
Fortner is a firearms instructor for the agency, assisting with range preparations and semi-annual qualification of all commissioned personnel in Region III.
“Joe is certainly not only a great asset for the Agency but also for the hunters, anglers and boaters that recreate in the state of Tennessee,” Rider said.