PAT NEAL: Sympathy to new state Department of Fish and Wildlife director

DEAR MR. KELLY SUSEWIND: Allow me to express my deepest sympathy.

It is hard to imagine the tragedy of a situation that would cause a man to abandon a 25-year career in the state Department of Ecology to become the director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

What happened? Did you park in the director’s spot or something?

You really should try to get your old job back before it’s too late because buddy, this new job is a man-killer.

The director of the WDFW gets fired so often we just call him “the new guy.”

The last new guy lasted only three years before going out in a blaze of glory amid accusations of secret meetings, workplace scandals and budget shortfalls.

This, while threatened and endangered species such as the southern resident orca and the Puget Sound chinook they depend on for food spiraled further down the black hole to extinction.

According to Northwest Sportsman magazine, you are “something of an unknown and wildcard to Washington’s rank-and-file anglers and hunters.”

You said it was an honor to serve the people of the state of Washington. And you want to “deliver the results they deserve.”

That’s scary.

Here in Washington we try to manage our fish and wildlife in a manner that doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings and so far, we’ve gotten exactly what we deserve.

The orcas are starving from a lack of salmon.

So, we shut down the salmon hatcheries and protect the exploding population of sea lions, seals, cormorants and mergansers that eat as many salmon as the orca and humans put together.

The surviving salmon are forced to swim through the thousands of tons of pollutants in a chemical stew that we dump into Puget Sound every year, whose ingredients include but are not limited to sewage, drugs, pesticides, herbicides, personal care products and industrial chemicals, while ignoring the impacts on fish, orcas and humans.

Fishery management in Washington is a cycle of abuse.

Alaska catches fish bound for British Columbia.

Fishers in British Columbia catch fish bound for Washington.

People in Washington choke off the Columbia River to kill fish bound for Idaho.

Washingtonians get so fed up with the fishing at home, they go to Alaska to fish.

Washington’s fisheries are divided between competing groups of tribal, commercial and sport fishers who can only agree on one thing — banning the other guy’s gear.

Catch quotas are distributed to the myriad abuser groups through a series of mysterious secret negotiations that from the look of things must involve a Ouija board.

In fact, you could not design a system of salmon management more perfectly designed for the extinction of the salmon and our heritage of salmon fishing than is currently employed here in Washington.

The only thing worse than Washington’s salmon management is the management of our game animals.

If someone says they want to hear a wolf howl, we’ll move the wolves in.

Then when the wolves start eating livestock, (the reason we got rid of them in the first place) we’ll remove the wolves.

Logical efforts to relocate the wolves where research has indicated they would do the most good for the ecosystem as a whole, downtown Olympia, have been derailed by the Not-In-My-Backyard do-gooders.

So, you see Mr. Susewind, the hunters and fishers of the state of Washington are already getting what they deserve.

Unfortunately, you can’t say the same thing about the $165,000 annual salary you’ll be getting to become the most hated man in Washington.

Maybe it’s not too late to get your old job back.

_________

Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patneal wildlife@gmail.com.

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