On February 16, 2023, Duane Diefenbach, adjunct professor of wildlife ecology in Pennsylvania State University‘s College of Agricultural Sciences, has been given the Henry S. Mosby Award for his wild turkey restoration work by the National Wild Turkey Federation.
The national environmental restoration award, given by the Nashville-based group, is in recognition of the “far-reaching contribution to turkey-restoration efforts” made by Diefenbach, who is unit leader of Penn State’s Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.
Diefenbach expressed appreciation for the federation honoring his work.
“Over my career, it has been a pleasure working with the NWTF, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and other northeastern states on projects that further the conservation and management of the wild turkey,” he said.
“For me, it has been particularly rewarding to see research directly benefiting management decisions. My success has been due, in no small part, to the support the NWTF provides for wild turkey research,” Diefenbach added.
Diefenbach accepted the award remotely during the federation’s 50th anniversary celebration at its 47th annual Convention and Sport Show.
The award is named for Henry Mosby, whose research during the mid-1900s set the standard for wild turkey management.
Mosby also helped found the Wildlife Society, and won its highest honor, the Aldo Leopold Medal.
The federation chose the right man to honor, according to Bradley Cardinale, professor and head of the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.
“The average wildlife population on the planet has declined by nearly 60% since 1970, putting a large fraction of species at risk of extinction,” he said.
“Dr. Diefenbach is one of the world’s premier wildlife biologists who works to protect species populations by developing better management and conservation methods. We are very lucky to have him at Penn State,” Cardinale continued.
Since 2000, Diefenbach has been collaborating with the Pennsylvania Game Commission in the design and analyses of all wild turkey research studies in the state.
All of these have received funding from the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Pennsylvania State Chapter, as well as from the group’s national operation.
These projects have been restoration management oriented, providing results to direct wild turkey hunting season regulations and helping monitor population trends, according to the federation.
“Diefenbach’s ability to synthesize complex models into real-life management allows him to comfortably present his findings to varied audiences of university faculty, wildlife professionals or hunters,” the federation said in a news release about the award. “His several dozen graduate students to date credit him with his thoughtful guidance and mentoring.”
Moreover, the federation pointed out, Diefenbach and a colleague began a program for graduate students who have never hunted, which included workshops on hunting, its benefits and the opportunity for a mentored hunt.
“Last hunting season, thanks to the initiative, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the NWTF’s Pennsylvania State Chapter provided several fall turkey hunts for students, and they have plans for future events,” the federation explained.
“Duane has contributed significantly to wild turkey research during his career that has spanned more than two decades,” National Wild Turkey Federation co-CEO Kurt Dyroff said.
“We are thankful for all his accomplishments in helping conserve wild turkeys, especially through his work in the great state of Pennsylvania. We are proud to present him with the prestigious Henry S. Mosby Award,” he concluded.
Photo of Duane Diefenbach courtesy of Penn State.