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RALEIGH, N.C. (March 24) - Master Officer Timothy Lominac of Murphy has been named North Carolina's Wildlife Enforcement Officer of the Year.

Lominac, an 11-year veteran of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, received the honor alongside 17 winners in other categories at the Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards banquet, held March 11 in Raleigh. The awards are the highest natural resource honor in the state, presented annually by the N.C. Wildlife Federation to recognize those who have exhibited an unwavering commitment to conservation.

Lominac was honored for his efforts in law enforcement, which include breaking up a deer and turkey poaching ring in Cherokee County. That case began with a random spotlighting arrest in the Nantahala National Forest. Lominac continued the investigation, both in the field and through computer data-based research, which eventually led to nine people being charged with 150 wildlife violations and 47 drug violations.

"It never occurs to most people that our wildlife resources are under threat from elements such as interstate theft conspiracies and crime rings large enough to have bona fide ring leaders," said T. Edwards Nickens, chairman of the Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards Program. "Nor does it occur to most people that there are enforcement officers such as Tim Lominac, who puts his life on the line for the wildlife of Cherokee and Macon counties. The Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards program is designed to shine a spotlight on 'conservation heroes,' and few fit the bill as well as Tim Lominac."

Lominac quickly credits the cooperation of fellow officers with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and other area law enforcement agencies for the success in shutting down the criminal enterprise. "Without their assistance it would have been too great a challenge to serve the many warrants and log the mounds of evidence," he said.

Lominac was also recognized for outstanding work in conservation education. He conducts regular programs in boater safety certification, hunter safety programs and youth fishing events. He is involved in school programs and efforts to build community awareness of natural resource conservation.

"I'm most proud of our hunter safety program," he said. "We have participation of all three high schools here (in Cherokee County) and have teams competing in the Youth Hunter Safety Tournaments. The commitment of the coaches and the kids is just great."

A native of Cherokee County and a Murphy High School graduate, Lominac earned a degree in criminal justice from Western Carolina University. He began work for the Wildlife Resource Commission in Alleghany County in 1994 and was later stationed in Graham County before returning home to his current assignment.

"You really take things to heart when its home," Lominac said. "There's a strong heritage in the mountains of folks enjoying the outdoors, parents going hunting and fishing with their children. You want to work hard to protect those resources."

Lominac is no stranger to awards. In January, he was presented the Officer of the Year award by the North Carolina chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. He was one of four N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission officers officially thanked last year by the FBI and the law enforcement unit of the U.S. Forest Service for their persistence and cooperative spirit during the five-year manhunt for federal fugitive Eric Rudolph, who hid out in the Murphy area.

Lominac lives in Murphy with his wife Shannon and their two sons, Cody, 5 years old, and Caleb, 3 years old.


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