Wildlife commissioner resigns, citing ‘politicized quagmire’

  • The Associated Press
  • Wednesday, December 15, 2021 1:30am
  • News

The Associated Press

SPOKANE — A member of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has resigned, saying in his resignation letter that the commission is stuck in a “politicized quagmire.”

Fred Koontz was appointed on Jan. 5 by Gov. Jay Inslee to a six-year term. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is appointed by the governor and sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Spokesman-Review reports Koontz occupied one of the commission’s three “at-large” seats. There are now two vacancies on the nine-person commission. Inslee will need to fill an “at-large” position and an Eastern Washington seat.

Koontz wrote that the commission has largely lost the ability to have civil public conversations. Some hunters and hunting organizations believed Koontz’s appointment nearly a year ago, alongside Jefferson County resident Lorna Smith, threw the commission off-balance and disenfranchised hunting.

During Koontz’s tenure, the commission considered a number of controversial and politically heated topics. That included a spring bear hunting season that was suspended despite state wildlife biologists asking the commission to reapprove the hunt. Koontz was one of the four commissioners who voted against the hunt and questioned some of the data presented by department biologists.

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