Laramie Game Warden Retires
South Laramie Game Warden Bill Haley retired after 39 years with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Haley earned a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management from the University of Wyoming in August 1975 and began his career with the department that same year. As a seasonal employee, he hauled hay to elk feed grounds in Pinedale, Big Piney and Jackson in the winter months and trapped grizzly bears during the summer. In the spring of 1977 he performed fishing enforcement duties at Flaming Gorge Reservoir then ran a roving hunter check station during the fall hunting season.
He was hired as a game warden trainee in Laramie in January of 1978 and after graduating from the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy he was stationed in the North Laramie warden district. In September 1980 he transferred into the South Laramie warden district, where he has been ever since.
Haley is fond of the Laramie area. “This is one of the best warden districts in the state in terms of diverse wildlife, fishing opportunities, roadless areas and wilderness. There is always something to do here. It’s been easy to call Laramie and Albany County home.”
He’s seen a lot of positive changes in wildlife management during a career spanning nearly 4 decades. “The advancement of forensics technology is the best change I’ve witnessed. The sophisticated DNA work our Game and Fish lab does today is a real benefit to wildlife law enforcement," he said.
Haley took time to get to know the people in Albany County, and even those who travelled here from other states to hunt and fish. He’s enjoyed getting to know the many people he met throughout his career, from the wealthy trophy game hunters who hunt exotic places every year to the Midwest factory workers who save up for years for a hunting trip in Wyoming.
As a game warden he’s spent a good deal of his career solving wildlife crimes. He enjoyed putting a case together and “outsmarting” the poachers. “Some people make an effort to get into trouble, but most of them just want to hunt and have a good time,” he said.
Law enforcement is only one of the many duties of a Wyoming game warden, and Haley recalls many projects he has worked on during his career. After years of seeing Snowy Range moose hunters struggle, he helped develop a brochure that shows the difference between cows and young bulls, and directs hunters on how to process and remove a large moose in the field. “Since the brochure came out I haven’t had one yearling bull mistaken for a cow or had to go retrieve a moose that someone shot and needed help getting out,” he said.
Along with his wife, Vicki, and coworkers Rick Pallister and John Demaree, Haley helped organize the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association convention in Jackson in 1990. He and Vicki also organized the Game Division meeting in Saratoga in the early 1990s.
Haley’s quiet dedication to Wyoming’s wildlife has not gone unnoticed. In 2007 he was honored as the Lawman of the Year by the American Legion of Wyoming, and in 2013 he was named the Shikar-Safari International Wildlife Officer of the Year for Wyoming.
In July of this year he became longest tenured game warden in Wyoming and was honored for this achievement by receiving badge Number 1, which he wore until his last day on Aug. 5.
He says he’ll miss the interactions with his coworkers, sportsmen and especially the landowners, who, without them, big game hunting and wildlife management in Wyoming would not be possible. “It will be hard letting go of the reins. I’ve spent two-thirds of my life managing and protecting the wildlife in the Snowy Range.”
Haley and Vicki raised three children, Justin 31, Jake 26, and Taylor 23. He and his wife will retire in Centennial, with occasional trips to Arizona in the winter months.