Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Elk leader and researcher dies

Toepher said Anderson had logged 23 years on chickens.

Anderson has worked for years studying black bear movements and
behavior. He also was involved in research on loons, wolves,
sandhill crane migration, pesticides on Buena Vista Marsh, leopard
frogs, Blanding’s turtles, wood turtles, fishers, the
reintroduction of pine martens, a turkey project in the Nicolet
National Forest, eagles, harriers, fox, and sharp-tailed
grouse.

“In 1986, he wrote letter to a student to discuss work on the
massasauga rattler,” Toepfer said. “Ray designed the project and
had a student ready to go 14 years before the state decided to do
the same thing.”

Toepfer said Anderson developed the wildlife program at
UW-Stevens Point.

“At one time, it was arguably the biggest and best in the
nation. He built it from positively, absolutely nothing. He helped
develop the graduate program in natural resources,” he said.

Anderson also started a student chapter of the Wildlife Society
and wrote a grant in the 1970s to do a workup of threatened and
endangered species in Wisconsin.

Anderson was originally a teacher in Nekoosa. He started his
undergraduate work at UW-Stevens Point. He then went to Michigan
State for his master’s. He came to UW-Stevens Point in the early
1960s and started teaching. At the same time, he started his
doctorate work in 1962 while working with the Hamerstroms. He
earned his doctorate from UW-Madison. At one time, he had 44
graduate students and Toepfer believes that number is now more than
50 students.

Anderson was born and raised in White Lake, Wis.

“He taught full-time and did his research on the side. That’s
unusual for most professors they’ll teach part-time,” Toepfer
said.

He often started research, which then was carried on or followed
up by others.

Anderson was involved in the Voigt treaty rights case and
testified as a friend of the court.

“I remember him saying, when the DNR was challenging the ability
of the tribes to manage their deer herd, that if the tribes want to
hunt deer year-round, who is to say that’s not proper
management?”

Anderson had three sons and one daughter. He was a good athlete
and played basketball and football at UW-Stevens Point.

Teopfer described Anderson as an outstanding teacher and
researcher who was also an excellent editor and writer.

“Professors usually put their names on students’ publications.
He never did unless the student requested it. He worked shoulder to
shoulder with students on field work. He was an excellent educator,
but he was a field biologist first,” he said.

Anderson took great pride in the “lineage of education” from
Aldo Leopold to the Hamerstroms and to him.

“He made his students well-aware of that educational family
tree,” he said.

Anderson had open heart surgery in July of 1999 and never
returned to good health after the operation. His kidneys began to
fail and he began dialysis. He eventually decided to stop
dialysis.

“He knew that if he continued dialysis, he would eventually have
a heart attack. He also knew that if he stopped dialysis, he would
slip into a coma and then die. He made the choice. He went
peaceably,” Toepfer said.

Toepfer predicted Anderson will be nominated for the Wisconsin
Conservation Hall of Fame.

Anderson’s answering machine message reflected his life-long
philosophy: “Do that what you can for the wild ones.” Anderson did
that.

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