Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 58

Justin McVey checks on an
elk's teeth, for wear and
to determine the animal's
approximate age.

reach, though, so McVey
talked his boss into authorizing tuition reimbursement so he could get a
master's degree in fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology. The father of
two young boys, McVey
thought he could be a stayat-home dad while writing
his thesis comparing the diets of coyotes and red wolves.
"But my newborn just wouldn't nap long enough or at
the right times," he admits. Day care, although expensive,
made it all work, and in July 2012, McVey finally got his
dream job with the N.C. Wildlife Commission in District 9.
He and his family moved to Horse Shoe, a small unincorpo-

rated mountain community in the western part of the state.
Working out of his home office, the burly, bearded biologist primarily assists land owners concerned about wildlife
issues. If someone wants to attract more, or fewer, deer to
his property, McVey can show him how to do it. Because
many area residents worry about bears, McVey spends much
of his time helping them separate fact from fiction, speaking
to school groups, and making appearances at community
meetings. He also manages the district's wild elk herd, attaching collars and tracking the animals' movements to see
how far they roam.
A positive, glass-half-full kind of person with a passion
for what he does, McVey loves knowing that his conservation efforts are going to help different species survive, "so
that years down the road, my children's children will have
an opportunity to see elk on the landscapes, something that
before 2001, hadn't been around for 20 years."
In his spare time, he hikes and tries to keep up with his
athletic sons Braeden, 13, and Finn, 9, whose names are derived from characters in an Irish folktale called The Legend
of Finn McCool.
Over the years, McVey concedes, the animals he protects
have gotten bigger and bigger.
"I had a woman ask me one time if the animals that we
worked with were based on our body size," he says. "I'm
a big guy, so I work with big animals. I do like that large,
charismatic megafauna and working with those kinds of
critters."

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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020

Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 10
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 14
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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 16
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 18
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 37
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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 42
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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 55
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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 61
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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 66
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover4
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