SALT LAKE CITY —There was a change in leadership of the Division of Wildlife Resources earlier this month. Brian Steed, the executive director of Utah Department of Natural Resources, named Justin (“J”) Shirley as the new director for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, effective Saturday, Aug. 21.
“J brings a wealth of knowledge and personal experience to this position, and I feel confident in his ability to oversee the management of Utah’s fish and wildlife,” Steed said.
Shirley hails from Stockton, Tooele County, he graduated from the Police Corps program in 2002 and began working as a DWR conservation officer later that year.
He began working in Juab County and was promoted to a sergeant in 2006. Shirley later became the southeastern region lieutenant in 2013 and three years later he was promoted to a captain in 2016. By 2019, after his hard work and exemplary service he was promoted to oversee the DWR law enforcement as section chief in 2019.
Shirley earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in wildlife and range resources from Brigham Young University and followed in the footsteps of his father who worked as a biologist and then conservation officer for the DWR for 30 years. Shirley has always had a passion for the outdoors and wildlife conservation.
“I am a second-generation DWR employee and care deeply about the continued success of the wildlife resources in Utah,” Shirley said. “With over 18 years as an employee with the DWR, I feel that my experience gained through numerous positions within the law enforcement section have uniquely prepared me for the position of director.”
He believes in the DWR mission: Wildlife is valuable to everyone.
“I believe in that and have spent my career promoting and instilling a respect for wildlife and wild places with all those I interact with,” he said. “I look forward to continuing that mission.”
Shirley was raised in Elk Ridge, Utah County, and has a passion for recreating in the outdoors hunting, fishing and hiking with his wife and children.
Shirley replaces Rory Reynolds who was serving as the interim director since Jan. 1, 2021, after former director Mike Fowlks retired.