Prior to his appointment as Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Hamilton served as the agency's southeast regional director, based in Atlanta, Georgia. Hamilton was credited with leading the restoration efforts in the Florida Everglades. He also oversaw coastal fort restoration efforts along the Gulf of Mexico following Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, both of which damaged wildlife refuges, wetlands and other habitats.
He was appointed the director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in 2009 and was sworn in on September 15, 2009. As director, Hamilton oversaw 8,700 employees who are responsible for nearly 150,000,000 acres (610,000 km2), including approximately 550 national wildlife refuges nationwide.
Sam Hamilton suffered a heart attack while skiing at the Keystone Resort in Keystone, Colorado. He died on February 20, 2010, at the age of 54. He was survived by his wife, Becky; sons, Sam Jr. and Clay; and a grandson, Davis.
- "Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife dies". MSNBC. 2010-02-20. Retrieved 2010-03-10.
- "Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge". US Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 17 October 2012.