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CHEYENNE - A career that started as a special deputy warden in Elk Mountain and spanned 34 years and multiple promotions has culminated with Terry Cleveland being appointed director of the Game and Fish Department.

Gov. Dave Freudenthal made the announcement Dec. 15 after selecting Cleveland from a short-list of three candidates forwarded by the G&F Commission. Cleveland, who has served as the G&F's Wildlife Assistant Division chief in Casper since July 1996, assumed his new duties immediately.

"I'll be meeting as soon as I can with the Game and Fish staff to identify our priorities and chart our strategy," Cleveland said. He hopes to move to Cheyenne by mid-January.

Cleveland, with his steady, straight-forward style, has successfully tackled tough issues including proposed exotic game farms, controversial damage claims and residential wildlife conflicts. He has also been cited by co-workers for his "far-sighted budget planning."

Following his Elk Mountain duty, Cleveland was promoted to patrol the Jeffrey City warden district in April 1970. He transferred to Greybull in June 1971 and to Saratoga in June 1976.

In April 1978 he was promoted to district wildlife supervisor in Casper and in July 1996 to his present position of assistant chief game warden, overseeing law enforcement, regulations and damage issues.

"The department has been and will continue to be a strong advocate for wildlife, and we'll do our best to meet the desires of the people of the state of Wyoming in the management of their wildlife," Cleveland said.

Cleveland graduated from Rawlins High School before earning a bachelor's degree with honors in wildlife biology from Colorado State University. He served in the Wyoming Army National Guard from 1969-75.

"Terry is known throughout the G&F for his untiring and efficient work ethic," said Chief Game Warden Jay Lawson.

Cleveland was honored as the Shikar-Safari Wildlife Officer of the Year for Wyoming in 1983. He received the G&F's Director's Award in 1986 and the G&F Peer Recognition Award in 1991.

"Through nearly four decades with the Game and Fish Department, Terry has proven repeatedly that he has both the skills and demeanor necessary to be its director," Gov. Freudenthal said.

In his spare time, Cleveland is an avid bird hunter, hunting in Wyoming and throughout the West. He's a charter member and past president of the Wyoming Game Warden's Association, and he is also a charter member of the Wyoming Chapter of the Wildlife Society.

Cleveland and his wife, Donna, have one daughter.

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