by Kay Mitchell

Some people are gentle and kind. Some are highly intelligent. Some are dedicated to good causes. Some are highly principled. Some give the limelight to others. And a few wrap these all up together and quietly become a hero.

Lewis setting up mist nets for bat capture and survey – photo by Lisa Bate

Lewis Young passed away April 9, from complications of a stroke suffered while skiing in Fernie, BC. He leaves behind his beloved wife Lynda and one son and his family. A wildlife biologist by education, Lewis was (in his words), “a conservationist by choice and by birth.” He lived his beliefs.

Flathead Audubon has been fortunate to have Lewis with us from 2003 until 2023. In those 20 years, he helped us form the Owen Sowerwine Committee, dealing with initial land, wildlife, water, and weed issues. He was instrumental in putting together a protocol for monitoring vegetation changes in Owen Sowerwine, the monitoring to be done every five years; he developed the monitoring form and has participated in every monitoring session carried out so far. During the same time, he was chair of the FAS Conservation Committee for 17 years, from 2004-2021. 

For nine years, 2014 to present, Lewis has been the layout editor for our monthly newsletter, The Pileated Post. In true Lewis style, the articles were always scientifically correct and diverse, and the copy always submitted by the deadline.

In his professional life, Lewis worked all over the US, including Alaska. He was a member of The Wildlife Society (TWS), a nationwide professional society of wildlife biologists. For TWS, he worked on committees and on many research projects for and with other biologists. Bats and Sharp-tailed Grouse have been among his strongest interests. He led yearly Going Batty field trips for FAS and wrote annual educational articles. “Bat of the Month,” served to teach folks throughout the valley about bats and were published each year in the Daily Inter Lake. He worked for many seasons with Lisa Bate’s bat surveys in Glacier National Park and has been instrumental in the reintroduction of the Sharp-tailed Grouse in Western Montana.

Lewis has been a recipient of the MT Audubon and TWS Conservationist of the Year and Lifetime Achievement awards. Throughout his career and retirement, Lewis has received many awards for his work. In 2021, he was awarded Flathead Audubon’s Conservation Achievement Recognition “for applying the best available science and his considerable experience-based knowledge to a wide range of wildlife projects throughout Montana, both as a US Forest Service biologist and as a volunteer. The projects include multi-year surveys of Montana’s bats and Black Swifts, monitoring owls and eagles, and preservation and restoration of Sharp-tailed Grouse.” You can view the presentation honoring him at

Lewis and Lynda always had at least one well-trained black Lab to help them on their frequent pheasant hunts. Lewis’s other hobby was restoring classic cars. With Lewis doing the mechanical work and Lynda the upholstery, their most recent trophy was a stunning black 1967 Ford Mustang with not a speck of dust on its shiny paint, as it travelled around in a Lewis-adapted enclosed trailer.

A hero to many of us who knew him, Lewis left us in a natural world immensely better for his being here, and with his examples as a man who has inspired many to continue to carry the banner of conservation.