A former University of Wyoming professor who also helped shape the Wyoming Game and Fish Department was recently inducted into the Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame.
John W. Scott, who died in 1956, was inducted during a ceremony March 22 at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. The hall of fame honors individuals who have made significant and lasting contributions to the conservation of Wyoming’s outdoor heritage.
Scott moved to Laramie in 1913 to work as a professor of zoology and a research parasitologist at UW. He eventually became chair of the Department of Zoology and oversaw the creation of a bachelor’s degree in conservation and game management.
According to a 1990 article in Wyoming Wildlife magazine, Scott led a committee to revamp Wyoming’s wildlife laws in 1953 at the request of Gov. Leslie Miller. The aim was to separate and insulate wildlife management — now emerging as a field of its own — from influence by elected officials, including governors. As a result of that work, the commission gained expanded power to manage money raised through license sales and required warden examinations, among other changes.
Scott took a two-year leave from UW to serve as secretary of the Game and Fish Commission in 1937, helping the Wyoming Game and Fish Department transition under the new laws. During his tenure he removed political appointees in favor of wildlife professionals and formed a division to conduct wildlife research.
Scott later returned to UW and continued teaching and mentoring a generation of scientists.
Rob Scott, the grandson of John Scott, worked with his brother, Tom Scott, to nominate his grandfather for the hall of fame.
“It’s something we’ve felt strongly about for a number of years,” Rob said.
Rob, who grew up in Billings, Montana, recalled visiting Laramie with his family in the summer and at Christmas. John Scott died when Rob was 10.
“I have a young boy’s memory of my grandfather,” he said.
Rob said his grandfather lived on Garfield Street, just a couple blocks from UW, and walked to work each day. John took his grandsons fly fishing and showed them movies taken of sage grouse on their mating grounds.
“That’s a very vivid memory I have,” he said.
As he and his brother worked on their nomination, they consulted his papers and research, which are in the archives at the American Heritage Center. Through their research, they gained a greater understanding of John’s accomplishments, Rob said.
“You get better acquainted with somebody who you respect, but you have no idea the extent of what they’ve accomplished in their lifetime,” he said. “It’s been really special to do this research.”
John Scott, who taught for more than 40 years, had an influence on the hundreds of students who worked with him at UW. He also passed along his love for conservation and the outdoors to his son, Robert W. Scott — who became a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — and his grandchildren.
“We’re proud of the heritage that we have with our grandfather,” said Rob, who now lives in Utah and works as a land-use planner.
Other 2019 inductees in the Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame are Mark Haroldson, Glen F. Cole and Orrin and Lorraine Bonney.
Haroldson, a pioneer and worldwide expert on grizzly bears, has spent more than 40 years working on the conservation of bears and studying the ecology of the bear population in the Yellowstone area. He discovered a unique genetic marker for the Yellowstone grizzly population that allows law enforcement to determine the origin of deceased bears, which is helpful in poaching cases. He also pioneered techniques for capturing and handling bears safely. He is currently the supervisory biologist for the USGS Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.
Cole, who died in 2004, was a research scientist in Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. His work impacted the management of bear, ungulate and trout populations. For example, Cole developed programs to restore free-ranging grizzlies and reduce injuries to park visitors in Yellowstone.
The Bonneys wrote 19 climbing and hiking guidebooks about Wyoming backcountry, inspired by their love for the Teton and Wind River ranges. They wrote the seminal “Guide to the Wyoming Mountains and Wilderness Areas” in 1960. They also fought for the Wyoming Wilderness Act. In 1983, the pass used to access Gannett Peak was named in their honor. Orrin died in 1979 and Lorraine in 2016.
The Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame was established by Gov. Dave Freudenthal in 2004.