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Long-time area wildlife manager retires

After 36 years of service with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, area wildlife manager Bernie Swiney has retired (Photo: TWRA)

Yuchi Wildlife Refuge Manager, Bernie Swiney, has retired after 36 years of service with the agency. Swiney started his career with TWRA in 1981 as a wildlife officer in Rhea County. His commitment and love of wildlife were obvious throughout his years of service. Swiney was instrumental in helping TWRA acquire the land now known as Yuchi Refuge and became manager of the area in 2002.

During his time as manager on the refuge, he worked hard to establish a healthy deer herd through habitat management. Swiney implemented a timber thinning program in two areas promoting early successional habitat in the understory. This habitat helped support species such as deer, turkey and songbirds.

Swiney oversaw countless youth hunts through the years and appreciated seeing young hunters grow and return with their own children to hunt. During his last juvenile turkey hunt, Swiney visited with three generations of hunters enjoying time outdoors.

“It’s one of the things I’ll miss; that is spending time with hunters that I’ve come to know and see each season,” said Swiney.

Swiney also coordinated activities on Tennessee Valley Authority owned lands under license to TWRA, including Cottonport Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Washington Ferry WMA and Yellow Creek Waterfowl Management Area.

Swiney was also known throughout the agency and community as a birdwatcher; always quick to identify any hint of song floating down from treetops. Anyone visiting the Sandhill Crane Festival held at the Hiwassee Refuge each winter, undoubtedly met Swiney. Typically set up behind a spotting scope, binoculars dangling around his neck, Swiney greeted visitors and shared his outstanding knowledge of birds.

When asked to describe Swiney, Wildlife Program Manager Kirk Miles said, “Swiney has an obvious passion for wildlife and was quick to help anyone in need.”

Greg Atchley, a former area wildlife officer and wildlife manager at North Chickamauga Wildlife Management Area has been named as Swiney's replacement.

Find out more about careers with TWRA here.

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