|New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos is proud to present the latest episode of "On the Front Lines," the agency's video series profiling staff and their work to conserve the environment, protect New York's natural resources, and serve the public. The latest episode features Kevin Hynes, a Wildlife Biologist in DEC's Wildlife Health Unit.
"We are proud of DEC's 'One the Front Lines' series which gives the public a behind-the-scenes look at the great work our dedicated employees do every day across the state to preserve and protect the environment for generations to come," Commissioner Seggos said. "It is an opportunity for New Yorkers to learn more about the issues we tackle in their communities so that we can all reap the benefits of a healthy environment. A special thanks to our latest profile, DEC Wildlife Health Unit Leader Kevin Hynes, for his work to protect wildlife and public health in New York."
The latest episode featuring Kevin Hynes of DEC's Bureau of Fish and Wildlife can be viewed on the agency's You Tube channel.
Hynes originally planned to become a wildlife veterinarian when he returned to college at the age of 29, studying at Hudson Valley Community College before transferring to SUNY's College of Environmental Science and Forestry where he earned his degree. His interests changed when he interned at DEC's Wildlife Pathology Unit, where he worked as a seasonal wildlife technician. Hynes is still there 26 years later in a job he considers the most interesting position in all of state service. He works to determine the cause of death of a variety of animals, including salamander larvae, bald eagles, deer, and moose. He also focuses on zoonotic diseases, which are those that can spread between animals and humans, such as West Nile Virus and rabies.
In the lab, Hynes investigates an animal's abnormalities, which often indicates what caused its death. He performs external exams of these animals and necropsies to check for anything unusual. The cause of death ranges from disease and in other cases it might be a poison, or a gunshot, or some type of illegal activity. For example, lead poisoning in eagles can indicate it was feeding on carcass parts of an animal that was shot with lead ammunition. Hynes often collaborates with DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) as part of wildlife investigations, using forensics to determine what type of ammunition was used to kill an animal or to link a suspect to carcass or entrails in deer, moose, or bear poaching cases.
Hynes is also part of the team that monitors Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a fatal disease that has killed or infected many captive and wild deer herds outside of New York. In 2005, CWD was discovered on two deer farms in Rome, New York. He was involved in New York's response, which included operating a field lab to test wild deer collected from around the CWD-infected farms. Two wild deer tested positive for CWD, but the disease did not spread thanks to the swift actions of DEC Wildlife staff. To date, New York is the only state to eradicate CWD, but it remains a serious threat and DEC continues to monitor for the disease.
In looking back at his time at DEC, Hynes feels he is fortunate to have found a career that he calls rewarding but never boring, and intrinsically fascinating.
Learn more about Kevin Hynes and other DEC employees by visiting "On the Front Lines," posted regularly on DEC's YouTube channel. Also check out DEC's Facebook and Twitter pages (all links leave DEC's website).