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Ratajczak named TWRA Wildlife chief

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Daryl Ratajczak has been named Chief of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Division of Wildlife and Forestry. His new appointment is effective immediately.

Ratajczak moves into his new position after serving as the TWRA Big Game Program Coordinator since 2004. As the TWRA Wildlife and Forestry Division Chief, he is responsible for the TWRA’s wildlife and forestry programs. He replaces Greg Wathen who is now serving as Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) Coordinator.

While he was the TWRA Big Game Program Coordinator, Ratajczak oversaw all aspects of the TWRA’s white-tailed deer, black bear, and wild hog programs. He also assisted with the agency’s fledgling elk program. During his tenure, he served as the liaison to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission to present agency recommendations on big game hunting seasons. He was also involved in the development and implementation of several research projects which investigated new ways for estimating big game populations. 

Along with other agency professionals, Ratajczak was able to combine cutting-edge technology with time-tested methods to develop new survey protocols. These protocols are now being implemented and tested on a statewide level. 

Other projects include the development and design of the electronic big game harvest reporting system, the Hunter’s Toolbox, and the Tennessee Deer Registry website. These systems and interactive tools are designed to provide the Tennessee Sportsmen with the information needed to make the most of their big game hunting experience. 

Prior to becoming TWRA’s Big Game Coordinator, Ratajczak joined the agency in 2002 and was a wildlife manager at the Hunter Education and Range Facility in Bartlett.  Along with a team of dedicated volunteers and co-workers, he was responsible for the daily operation of a state-of-the-art hunter education and shooting range. More than 1,200 students graduated from his Hunter Education class while he served as manager of the facility.

A native of Buffalo, New York, he received his Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife management from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. Ratajczak moved to Tennessee in 1997 to manage the newly formed Appalachian Bear Center in Townsend. After sinking his family’s roots in Tennessee, he briefly moved to Gaithersburg, Md., where he assumed the role as the Outdoor Ethics Program Coordinator for the Izaak Walton League of America. His main responsibility while at the League was writing an outdoor ethics segment which aired nationally on the ESPN Outdoors television network.  It wasn’t long before the lure of Tennessee brought him back to his newly adopted home.

 Ratajczak has been involved in several training seminars, conferences, and volunteer efforts.  He is also a regular on many radio shows throughout the state promoting Tennessee’s big game program and is a frequent guest of the Tennessee Wildside Weekly television show. Among the awards he has received includes being named the Tennessee Conservation League’s Wildlife Conservationist of the Year while at the Appalachian Bear Center.  He was also awarded a Shikar-Safari Club International’s Mid-South Chapter award for teaching handicapped children the necessary requirements for their hunter education certification.