Outdoors owes a lot to Jim Cardoza.
Byline: Mark Blazis
If wild turkeys and bears could speak, they wouldn't be very happy. Jim Cardoza, their greatest ally, is retiring from Massachusetts Fish and Game today. There are thousands of hunters and naturalists who owe him thanks and congratulations. And if wildlife could write, they'd sign our card, as well. This is a note from all of us.
We turkey hunters thank you for supervising, since 1969, the recovery of the once-extirpated wild turkey in Massachusetts. From zero to a present population of about 27,000 birds is nothing short of miraculous management. The record spring harvest in 2009 of 3,047 birds speaks volumes about your enlightened guidance.
If anyone deserves retirement, you certainly do after committing yourself to Massachusetts wildlife - but none of us wants to rush you out the door. Truth be told - most of us would affectionately trip you up a little if we could keep you on a little longer. Everyone who knows and has worked with you speaks in awe of your unparalleled knowledge of laws and wildlife biology.
When they want to compliment someone about supreme expertise in an area, they sometimes claim "he wrote the book." Well, looking at my personal library last night, I noticed several treasured volumes there that you did indeed write - such as "The Wild Turkey in Massachusetts." It will stand as the authoritative tome on the king of our game birds. You tell us both why we originally failed in our restoration attempts and how we finally succeeded. The book is available free at our District Wildlife offices.
And thanks for helping restore black bears from a pathetic population of about a hundred to more than 3,000. The three Master's and two PhD theses that came out of your project have had an indelible influence on five well trained wildlife biologists. As a result of your work, we now have one of the densest bear populations in the Northeast.
Thanks, Jim, for also writing the handbook on capturing and chemically immobilizing wildlife for the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Because of your preparation and registration of MassWildlife with the USDA, we were the first Northeast state to pioneer much of this vital work. So much research and rescue of wildlife is due to your vision.
Thanks, also, for co-authoring the book on Massachusetts endangered species. You're justly considered one of the foremost authorities on non-game mammals in Massachusetts, too. You truly dedicated your career to all Massachusetts wildlife, not just the flashy, popular big game.
I believe you have 36 publications to your credit (hard to keep track of all your prolific writings), including the chapter on bobcat and lynx in the nationally acclaimed, Johns Hopkins Press book "Wild Mammals of North America." You've been the hands-down choice for chairman of the Northeast Wild Turkey Technical Committee since 1986 and produced the management handbook of the National Wild Turkey Federation. You were appropriately presented the highly esteemed honor of Fellow of the Wildlife Society.
And thanks for being the encyclopedia of printed and unprinted knowledge for the entire Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. How many times have you been a resource to me and countless others who couldn't find any other authority to answer our esoteric and obscure questions? Just as importantly, thanks for volunteering, hundreds of times, to speak to schools, as well as sportsmen's and environmental groups, to share the wealth in your heart and mind on Massachusetts wildlife.
I owe you for coming - without pay - to my science classes to share your passion with my students. You've helped aspiring wildlife biologists at UMass learn rocket-netting, bear capture and chemical immobilization - skills one can't gain command of from just reading a book. There's going to be an empty space and an empty feeling when you leave. You're an impossible act to follow.