Conservation common thread for new members of Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission

AFTER SPEAKING WITH Port Townsend’s Lorna Smith, one of Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent appointees to the state Fish and Wildlife Commission, and researching the background of the other newly appointed member Fred Koontz, it certainly seems like the conservation minded will be well represented.

Smith discussed a bit of her background as an ecologist, including 21 years as Snohomish County’s lead environmental supervisor, and her volunteer work with and alongside the state Department of Fish and Wildlife in a Peninsula Daily News article that can be found at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-SmithCommission.

But I didn’t get into Koontz’s background, so here’s some information on his history and what may guide his decision making as a commissioner.

A doctor of zoology, Koontz’s 35-year career included 15 years at the Wildlife Conservation Society where he helped to manage the animal population of the Bronx Zoo. He retired in 2017 after serving as Woodland Park Zoo’s vice president of field conservation, including starting up the Zoo’s Living Northwest program. That program focuses on animal protection, recovery and coexisting with carnivores.

He also served on Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Diversity Advisory Council, Budget and Policy Advisory Group and Snoqualmie Wildlife Area Advisory Committee.

Koontz authored a 2018 piece for Wildland Network [he serves on its board] available at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-KoontzArticle.

In the piece, Koontz decries the “split personality” of Fish and Wildlife’s mission “to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities” and calls for broad reform of fish and wildlife departments nationwide.

Ultimately, Koontz writes that the “preserve, protect and perpetuate” section of the mission statement “must be given higher priority in response to our current ecological and environmental conditions.”

Koontz didn’t list fishing or hunting as one of his outdoor interests, instead prefering to hike, observe nature and to play pickleball.

Ducks and geese

Quilcene’s Ward Norden wrote in with an update on waterfowl hunting opportunities, which continue through January.

“Since Thanksgiving, the season around here has been mediocre at best,” Norden said. “It has been quite strange. There are very few but local birds on the bays and ponds around here. I haven’t been out very much while watching and waiting for more ducks to come in from the north.

“I should be seeing large flocks of northern widgeon and ‘bluebills,’ lesser scaup and ringnecks, mostly.”

“Apparently, this has been true even on the real gathering places for ducks on this side of the mountains like the Skagit River delta. Up on the Skagit, the snow geese arrived as normal but no northern ducks to speak of yet. Local experts in places like the community of Conway attribute the lack of northern ducks to the milder than usual winter on coastal British Columbia.”

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Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected] news.com.

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