Dave Bittner is a wildlife advocate and the founder of Wildlife Research Institute, known for his efforts in conserving over 3,000 acres of open space in Ramona.
Last week, he passed away while tending to a critically endangered golden eagle’s nest in Bandy Canyon. A memorial will be held this Saturday, Jan. 25, during the Hawk Watch educational bird presentation at Begent Ranch (18528 Highland Valley Road).
Early Life and Education
Bittner was born in Schenectady, New York and attended Berklee College of Music. Upon completing his education, he began performing with various metal and hard rock bands during the 1980s and early 1990s.
Bittner dedicated his free time to several charitable endeavors. He spearheaded a fundraising drive for the restoration of Lady Liberty, spearheaded an initiative for veterans’ memorials and served on the board of directors at Nazareth YMCA.
He also established the Wildlife Research Institute, a public nonprofit organization that conducts research and provides data for conservation of wildlife habitat. With their assistance, more than 3,000 acres in Ramona were preserved through this initiative.
Dave Bittner is an accomplished drummer who has played with numerous bands since the age of ten. As part of the music community, his involvement has never wavered since then.
He has played with various metal and hard rock bands throughout his life, such as Stigmata, Burning Human and Shadows Fall. Additionally, he has toured Europe and the United States with these groups.
In 2001, he joined Shadows Fall and has since been a permanent member of the band. He has toured with them and done clinics across America and abroad. As an accomplished drummer, he has earned several awards and is sought-after clinician for various institutions.
Achievements and Honors
Bittner was an enthusiastic supporter of wildlife. Together with his wife Leigh, he founded the Wildlife Research Institute – a nonprofit organization dedicated to conservation biology research.
Bittner spearheaded land preservation initiatives in San Diego County. He was renowned for obtaining grants and donations to purchase property throughout the region so that it could be preserved for wildlife’s benefit.
Bittner had been an accomplished birder and caretaker of a threatened Golden Eagle nest in Bandy Canyon for over 31 years. To document its long-term ecology, he used a motion-activated remote camera.
Dave Bittner dedicated his life to wildlife conservation. A well-known local expert on eagles, he led for decades the free Hawk Watch program where he educated people about birds and their relationship to raptors.
Bittner was an advocate for San Diego County’s Golden Eagle population. He conducted extensive research, studying their nesting ecology over three decades, and worked to document this knowledge throughout the county.
Throughout his tenure in the state legislature, he was a staunch conservative who advocated for common-sense policies such as tort reform, tougher penalties for criminals and lower taxes.
From 2011 to 2016, Bittner served as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Throughout his tenure, he traveled throughout Florida and worked to expand their organization within its ranks.
On January 11th, 2020 Dave Bittner tragically passed away after falling while trying to replace batteries near a Golden Eagle nest in Bandy Canyon. He was renowned for his Hawk Watch educational programs and support of the county’s Golden Eagle population; furthermore, he helped protect 3,000 acres of grasslands around Ramona.
In 1996, Bittner and his wife Leigh established the Wildlife Research Institute in Ramona. This public, nonprofit conservation biology organization conducts research and education for responsible use and management of wildlife habitats.
Bittner previously worked as the drummer for hardcore band Stigmata and New York thrash metal outfit Toxik before joining Shadows Fall in 2001. Initially joining them only for one European tour, he eventually decided to stay with them throughout their entire career.