MADISON – David N. Redell, bat ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, passed away on Tuesday, September 18, 2012, at his home in Madison surrounded by his family.
Dave was born on April 27, 1970, in La Crosse. He is survived by his wife and colleague, Jennifer (Schehr) Redell of Madison; brother, Alan (Jennifer) Redell of Sheboygan; mother, Claire Redell of Delafield; nieces, Amelia, Sarah, and Lauren; uncle, Karl Redell of Delafield; cousins Lia and Julie; ex-wife Lisa Wilson; the DNR “Bat Crew” and many friends.
Dave devoted his life to the study and conservation of bats; an intriguing and valuable, though often misunderstood group of animals now facing multiple threats. This passion was ignited when he enrolled at UW-Madison in 1997. Later his graduate work there focused on the behavioral ecology of bats using Neda Mine, the Midwest’s largest bat hibernaculum. After receiving his master’s degree in 2004 David became the first bat ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in the Bureau of Endangered Resources. Inspired by a feeling of responsibility to the citizens of the state he loved, Dave was motivated to work hours far beyond those he was paid and often commented on having the “best job in the world.”
In addition to building the DNR’s Wisconsin Bat Program, Dave worked to enact vanguard regulations to protect Wisconsin bats and developed a plan that will guide the state’s response to white-nose syndrome, a disease devastating hibernating bat populations in North America. He was highly regarded by national, regional, and local partners, served as Vice President of the Midwest Bat Working Group, and recently initiated the first Wisconsin Bat Festivals. Dave was recently honored with the prestigious Silver Eagle Award from the US Fish & Wildlife Service and with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Midwest Bat Working Group.
Though Dave’s lost his life to brain cancer, he did not want to be recognized as a person fighting or battling cancer. Instead he lived the years since his 2002 cancer diagnosis with an intensified passion for his work and a heightened sense of urgency to accomplish what he could given a shortened timeframe. Always anxious to teach others about the importance of bats, Dave was grateful for the time and efforts made by the many volunteers of the Wisconsin Bat Program. He had a unique gift for inspiring instant camaraderie with people and those who interacted with him went away with a new appreciation for bats, often commenting on how they now noticed their aerial acrobatics at dusk in a way they hadn’t before. Dave’s passion, dedication, outside-the-box approach, warmth, and humor impacted and inspired those that knew him. It is the hope of his family and friends that his legacy will continue to wing its way across evening skies in the little bodies of bats long into the future.
Dave contributed his own money to establish the Wisconsin Bat Conservation Endowment Fund, which will be used to fund future research projects and long-term bat conservation efforts in Wisconsin. The endowment is less than 10% to its goal of $2 million. Contributions to the fund are tax-deductible and can be made through the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, Attn: Wisconsin Bat Conservation Endowment Fund, PO Box 2317, Madison, WI 53701 or by donating online at www.wisconservation.org.
A private memorial service for family and friends will be held in David’s honor.