Bill Hepworth

Bill Hepworth stops for a photograph Wednesday afternoon in his home in Laramie. Hepworth was recently inducted in the Pronghorn Hall of Fame in recognition of research and leadership in the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

SHANNON BRODERICK/Boomerang photographer

A Laramie scientist was honored for career achievements that advanced the understanding of pronghorn in Wyoming.

Bill Hepworth, who had a 38-year career with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, was inducted to the Pronghorn Hall of Fame. The hall of fame was created by the Western States and Provinces Pronghorn Workshop, a group consisting of wildlife managers, in 2002.

“It was a very unexpected recognition,” Hepworth said. “I had no idea it was coming.”

Hepworth began working for Game and Fish in 1956 as a fish biologist.

He spent most of his career directing the Game and Fish Laboratory and its research.

He also served as wildlife management coordinator and head biologist for southeast Wyoming.

Rich Guenzel, a retired Game and Fish biologist who nominated Hepworth, said Hepworth made many notable contributions to the understanding of pronghorn, an animal unique to North America and a key member of the plains ecosystem.

For example, he played an important role in the establishment of the Sybille Wildlife Research Center, which was later renamed in honor of Tom Thorne and Beth Williams, Guenzel said.

At the research center, scientists studied diseases such as brucellosis and chronic wasting disease while also developing techniques for marking and immobilizing big game and handling them in captivity.

“He’s one of those guys that’s always been behind the scenes in pronghorn work in Wyoming,” Guenzel said.

Hepworth also conducted studies on pronghorn in the Red Desert that provided baseline information for future research. He co-authored a study on abundance and distribution that is still referenced today.

“He certainly was a common thread in a lot of work that was done in Wyoming up until he retired,” Guenzel said.

Guenzel also praised Hepworth’s mentorship of younger scientists by supervising research projects and teaching at the University of Wyoming.

“If you look at a lot of theses of graduate students, particularly in Wyoming, you’ll often find that Bill is acknowledged,” he said.

Hepworth was quick to credit colleagues he worked with and scientists who made contributions of their own, such as Thorne, Williams, Guenzel, George Post and Floyd Blunt, among others.

“I really try to stay under the radar,” he said.

Hepworth, a native of Afton, received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UW.

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