MacGregor is from Nicholasville, and he has plenty of experience with the wildlife in Jessamine County. He even did his thesis at the University of Kentucky on water snakes in Jessamine Creek.
"I spent three years along Shun Road where it goes along the creek," he said. "In three years, I marked 1,500 snakes. Some of the snakes I found 25, 30, 30 times over three years, so I got data on how fast they grow, where they live, which rock crevices they live in."
Now he does those types of studies for a living. Since assuming the position in 2004, MacGregor has had his hand in several wildlife projects including building ponds for declining species of frogs, studying a virus that was killing off box turtles in a pond, and he is currently revising a book that catalogs all of the reptiles and amphibians in Kentucky.
"I started seriously working on revising The Amphibians and Reptiles of Kentucky in 2000. It was a two-year project," he said, laughing. "It's now 2008."
The delay has been mostly because he is doing the book from scratch, using records dated as far back as the 1930s. He also has photographs of every species of reptile and amphibian in the state.
It's not uncommon to see MacGregor at odd hours in odd situations, always trying to learn more about the creatures he studies.
"Whenever there's really horrible weather, there's a tornado watch, he goes out," his wife, Lois, said. "He drives the back roads because that's when all the salamanders and frogs and toads come out, and I think most of the police around the area now know him as he's sticking his flashlight at three in the morning at some edge of a building looking for a frog."
"That's when you find stuff," John MacGregor said, shrugging.
Another perk of the job is that MacGregor gets to see some of the more bizarre creations Mother Nature has to offer.
"I get the weird stuff," he said. "We had a two-headed box turtle that a teacher found down in Wayne County. Its spine was fused, and it couldn't stick its head out and was not able to eat. Cute little thing."
When situations like that arise, Lois gets the call from her husband. She keeps tiny turtles that are sick or deformed and takes care of them until they are old enough and well enough to get back out into the wild or to the Salato Center in Frankfort. John MacGregor estimated the couple has 25 or 30 animals living at their house now, several of which grace the kitchen.
"A lot of turtles in the big community tanks (at the Salato Center) are turtles that she raised," John MacGregor said. "A few years ago, I found a little bitty soft shell. It was missing part of the skin on its back; it was in bad shape. I brought this thing home, and I never thought it would survive, but after a couple of years it was big and was doing fine."
John MacGregor said there are quite a few misconceptions about Jessamine County's creatures. One popular one is that the Kentucky River is home to poisonous water moccasin snakes. In reality, of the three venomous snakes in Kentucky - copperheads, rattlesnakes and water moccasins - only copperheads reside in Jessamine County.
"A lot of people think any big water snake is a water moccasin," he said. "Actually they are just a normal water snake. The true cottonmouth, the venomous one, is a swamp species, and they're out in western Kentucky." He added that he has seen fewer than 10 copperheads in the county since he moved here in 1971.
Another misconception is that rabid bats have become an epidemic and are posing serious danger to people.
"Rabies is probably present in bats across the state, but it's really rare, and it kills the bats," he said. "They die from it, and nobody ever notices. It affects any warm-blooded mammal. If you listed the top 10 species that get rabies in the state, it would include raccoons, foxes, coyotes, dogs and cats, then the rest of them get strange - bats, pigs, horses, cows and skunks."