I wanted to give some space to some well deserved and long overdue recognition. Eddie Bridges, a long-time conservationist and advocate of North Carolina’s wildlife received the Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award, one of the most prestigious awards given by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. The Commission presents the award annually to individuals who make outstanding contributions to wildlife diversity in North Carolina and who are considered leaders in wildlife resources conservation.
Bridges, of Greensboro, accepted the award, along with plaque and a framed print of a Sandhills longleaf pine forest, from Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers at the agency’s business meeting in Raleigh. “It is an honor and a privilege to present this distinguished award today to Eddie — a true conservationist who has worked tirelessly to ensure that future generations of North Carolinians have opportunities to enjoy the abundance and diversity of wildlife and wildlife habitats that we enjoy today,” Myers said.
Bridges, who founded and voluntarily serves as the executive director of the North Carolina Wildlife Habitat Foundation, is well known in conservation circles for his dedication and enthusiasm to conserve and protect wildlife habitat in the Tar Heel state. Under Bridges’ leadership, the Foundation has raised nearly $4 million in donations and has funded more than $1 million of wildlife conservation programs and projects, such as rebuilding quail populations, enhancing fish habitat around piers and restoring Willow Pond, a public waterfowl-viewing site located in Harkers Island. Through its Adopt-An-Acre Program, the Foundation has purchased more than 200 acres of prime wildlife habitat that will be added to the Commission’s North Carolina Game Land Program.
Bridges is a former Wildlife Commissioner and served on the Commission board for 12years, during which time he created the N.C. Wildlife Endowment Fund, also known as the “Eddie Bridges Fund.” Since its inception in 1981, the endowment fund has generated nearly $150 million for wildlife conservation work across the state. It is a “401(k)” for wildlife that has been duplicated by more than30 states across the nation and has provided the Commission with money to fund critical projects that enhance hunting, fishing, trapping and other outdoor recreational pursuits.
Eddie also was instrumental in the creation of two other programs that have benefited North Carolina’s wildlife and habitats — the North Carolina Conservation Stamp and Print Program and the North Carolina Tax Check-off for Nongame and Endangered Wildlife. Funds from the stamp and print program help conserve, protect and enhance wildlife habitat in North Carolina while donations to the North Carolina tax check-off fund projects that conserve and protect nongame wildlife. “I appreciate being the recipient of this award,” Bridges said. “Not because of anything I may have accomplished, but because of the namesake of this award, a man who was a true conservationist, someone who believed in giving back, who provided so much for future generations and wildlife.”
I met Eddie while working with the Ruffed Grouse Society. Even though not from the mountains, he understood the needs of grouse habitat and donated several of the above mentioned Grouse Stamp and Prints to help us raise funds for wildlife habitat. Congratulations Eddie.
The WRC held their first quarterly meeting of the new Fiscal year last week. They set the migratory bird seasons. Federal Migratory regulations set the framework for the seasons and those regulations set the start date as September 1st. And since September 1st is on a Sunday, and there is no Sunday hunting in NC (don’t get me started), the early migratory bird seasons for dove, goose, and teal will start on Monday, September 2nd. That’s less than six weeks away so start getting ready!
I talked with one of the local WRC Enforcement officers this past week about the dead bear found in western Buncombe County. They still do not have any leads despite the $20,000 reward. However he does feel confident that a lead will turn up. It is really difficult for people who did this to not brag about it. It may take a while, but I also feel confident that information will come out which will lead to an arrest. He also told me they are spending a lot of time dealing with nuisance bears this time of year. One person had to shoot a bear that was coming out of his house after breaking in and raiding the kitchen. They bear still had a bag of chips in its mouth. I’ve said it before, bears are getting more aggressive and losing their fear of humans. Be careful in the wild!