HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Dr. Matthew Schnupp is settling into his new role with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The native of Wheeling, West Virginia, was hired by the game commission in January as director of the Bureau of Wildlife Management. The executive role oversees a large staff of biologists and others across the state who collectively study and manage Pennsylvania’s more than 400 species of wild birds and mammals.
His most recent previous experience in wildlife management was earned as the chief biologist for the massive 850,000-acre King Ranch in southern Texas, a facility larger than the state of Rhode Island.
“I wanted to come closer to home,” said Schnupp, a certified wildlife biologist who holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in wildlife science from Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and a bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries management from West Virginia University.
“It’s also great to be in a place like Pennsylvania where I can enjoy the things we accomplish. Unlike in Texas where 99 percent of land is private, Pennsylvania has amazing public lands for everyone to enjoy. I look forward to introducing my kids to those wide open spaces.”
Schnupp replaces Wayne LaRoche, who the game commission named special assistant for chronic wasting disease response late last year. In his new role, Schnupp plans to call on his own prior experience dealing with CWD while in Texas.
“I spent, actually, the last two years of my career there (dealing with CWD),” said Schnupp. “It was probably 60 percent of my professional focus. I think it’s going to be one of the biggest issues I deal with in my career. This is not going to be an overnight thing, but the Pennsylvania Game Commission takes it very seriously.”
Besides managing and curbing the threat of CWD in Pennsylvania’s free-roaming whitetail deer herd, Schnupp says his other goals include introducing hunting and the outdoors to more young people.
“We need to get them off the computer, off the tablet and into the outdoors,” he said. “We would love to get them into hunting and trapping, but just the general exposure to the outdoors and wildlife is the key. It can be with a camera or a pair of binoculars as much as it would be with a rifle.”
Schnupp admits there are major differences between managing wildlife only on private land “where they sort of say what they want to be done, and you do it,” and on the vast public forests and game lands in Pennsylvania. The similarity is that he plans to make sound decisions for managing wildlife using information backed by science and research. Additionally, he looks forward to interacting with Pennsylvania hunters.
“Everybody’s opinion matters,” Schnupp said. “It should be taken into consideration, and most times it really is. So long as we stay positive, and I will, I enjoy the feedback. There’s nothing to be said about Pennsylvanians other than they are very passionate about wildlife, and I love that.”