Ward Stone, Wildlife Coroner Who Warned Against PCBs, Dies at 84

Ward B. Stone, who as New York State’s maverick wildlife pathologist pleased environmentalists but angered his bosses and company polluters by likely over and above his mandate to expose the dangers that PCBs and other harmful chemicals also posed to human beings, died on Feb. 8 in Troy, N.Y. He was 84.

The clear lead to was respiratory failure, his daughter Montana Stone reported.

All through the virtually 42 many years he was employed by the State Section of Environmental Conservation, Mr. Stone and his staff executed thousands of necropsies on mammals ranging in size from mouse to moose, as well as on hawks, swans, deer, beavers and bears. The bring about of demise included accidents, illegal hunting, deliberate poisonings, and contamination by pesticides and other harmful toxins.

But in the study course of his forensic investigations, and also on his personal, he sampled soil, landfill, ash and other residue and was a single of the pioneers — along with Gunnar Widmark and Soren Jensen of the College of Stockholm and the biologist Robert Riseborough of the College of California, Berkeley — in locating evidence that polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, were ubiquitous in the setting.

“In his position as state wildlife pathologist, Ward Stone shone a mild on environmental threats extended just before other people could notice them and gave a science-primarily based voice to character in instances of crisis when couple of other point out officials would listen,” Roger Downs, conservation director of the Sierra Club’s Atlantic chapter, explained in a statement.

“His methods ended up in some cases unconventional,” Mr. Downs additional, “but he normally selected to go after environmental justice to start with right before pointless paperwork, and the natural entire world is a improved position since of his fearless advocacy.”

Mr. Stone discovered PCBs at the base of utility poles and other web sites criticized fishermen for weighting their hooks with sinkers produced of direct and even learned traces of the insecticide DDT on the grounds of just one of his own department’s regional workplaces.

Two decades ago, at the height of the West Nile virus epidemic, which Mr. Stone experienced helped recognize, his laboratory was staying inundated with an typical of 300 wildlife corpses each individual working day. A stainless metal refrigerated cell chest made for dead folks was tailored for massive turtles.

Mr. Stone generally ventured beyond his mandate as a pathologist and leaked his results to the information media. This led some men and women to dismiss him as a brash, untutored interloper.

He savored his popularity as a renegade. “I have been identified as a loose cannon,” he as soon as mentioned, “but I usually know exactly the place I am firing.”

But there have been also other criticisms, which ended up substantiated in a report by the state inspector typical.

In 2012, two yrs right after Mr. Stone retired, the inspector basic, responding to decades of complaints from state employees and disclosures in The Periods-Union of Albany, concluded that he had “engaged in long-term misconduct with near impunity, which includes abuse of staff members, misappropriation of condition resources and insubordination.”

The inquiry claimed that he experienced utilized the department’s Wildlife Source Heart in upstate Delmar as his home demoralized workforce, who complained of verbal abuse and insufficient instruction in protection protocols assigned them private duties, like caring for the chickens he saved as pets for his kids saved firearms at the center and unsuccessful to post information of the time he invested working for the state.

Though he collected tens of 1000’s of dollars in inappropriate private positive aspects all through almost four many years as a state employee, the inspector general’s report observed, he was merely warned and not officially disciplined, simply because office executives overruled his direct supervisors “in portion out of fear of unfavorable reactions from his supporters and the news media.”

Mr. Stone denied or downplayed most of the unique fees in opposition to him, though he did agree to make modest restitution. He stated that he took early retirement for the reason that he had a loved ones to aid and the monetary incentive was also tempting to refuse.

“I detest to retire below hearth,” he advised The Moments Union in 2010. “There’s still so a great deal science to do.”

Ward Byron Stone Jr. was born on Sept. 28, 1938, in Hudson, N.Y., to Ward and Nellie (Smith) Stone.

Raised in upstate Columbia County, he studied at the Spencertown Academy, a two-home schoolhouse, exactly where he formulated a enthusiasm for character. He then attended the National Naval Health care University in Maryland and served in the Navy in Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

At Syracuse College, he served on the varsity debate group and attained a Bachelor of Science degree in 1963 and then a master’s diploma in animal pathology and parasitology. He joined the Section of Environmental Conservation in 1969.

“While he liked pathology,” Montana Stone mentioned of her father in a telephone interview, “his like for daily life and residing creatures was his real inspiration and determination for continuing to rehabilitate wildlife of all styles, and superior recognize health conditions and contaminants that inextricably have an impact on human beings, wildlife and the setting.”

Mr. Stone and his associate, the ecologist Mary Bayham, who lived in Troy, experienced five young children. She survives him in addition to their daughter Montana, he is also survived by their small children Johnathan, Jeremiah and Ethan Alan Stone two stepchildren, Thomas and Emily Caraco and a daughter, Denise Stone, from his marriage to Lorraine Cebula. Mr. Stone and Ms. Bayham’s daughter Therese Rose Stone died prior to him.

“I’ve used my lifestyle striving to do a little something about the horrible environmental destruction I noticed, most of it accomplished by industries with a ton of electric power,” Mr. Stone said in an job interview with The Cobleskill Periods-Journal in 2016. “I was not preferred, but I didn’t enable that end me.”