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November 14, 2012

HSUS Employee Posthumously Honored as Maryland’s Conservationist of the Year

aa mag 1-2/12

Michelle Riley/The HSUS

The Maryland Wildlife Advisory Commission has recognized the late Susan Hagood, who was employed by The Humane Society of the United States for more than 20 years, as Conservationist of the Year for her lifetime of dedication and achievement in the field of wildlife conservation and protection. Hagood died of cancer on November 8, 2011. The award was presented to her husband, Jerry Boxman, of Hanover, Pa., who survives her.

“Susan Hagood was a trusted, witty and tenacious advocate for wildlife, and a joy to work with as a colleague,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “I hope Susan’s memory will continue to inspire people to care for the wild creatures of this world. Susan is dearly missed by everyone at The Humane Society of the United States, and we’re so pleased that the Maryland Wildlife Advisory Commission has selected her as Conservationist of the Year.”

For more than 20 years, Hagood served as a wildlife specialist for The HSUS, where, among her many duties and responsibilities, she created the Give Wildlife a Brake campaign, a national outreach program focused on providing the public with safe driving guidelines in an effort to save lives and reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions.

Hagood specialized in mitigating human-wildlife conflict in developed areas and making people more aware of the impacts of transportation on our nation’s wildlife, particularly turtles and tortoises. In 2009, Hagood received her Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her dissertation, “Genetic Differentiation of Selected Eastern Box Turtle (Terepene carolina) Populations in Fragmented Habitats, and a Comparison of Road-Based Mortality Rates to Population Size,” was original and important work that broadened our understanding of turtles and the effects of development, road building and other human activities on the animals.

Hagood’s field work included keeping hibernating turtles each winter in her basement at her home in Pennsylvania, and she frequently relocated turtles in the path of developments and roads with the help of Drew, her turtle-sniffing Labrador retriever. She also helped lead efforts to protect turtles near The HSUS’ property in Gaithersburg as development and plans for a new highway damaged and bisected habitat. 

From 2009 until her death in 2011, Hagood served as the wildlife and transportation specialist at The HSUS, working with federal, state and municipal transportation departments to advance the use of fencing, underpasses, specially designed culverts and other crossing structures to help wildlife safely navigate roads.

Hagood forged strong partnerships with state and federal agencies, academic institutions, and other non-government organizations and served on several governmental advisory committees.

Media Contact: Rachel Querry, 301-258-8255, rquerry@humanesociety.org

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