I grew up fishing and hunting. And I still do both, when I can.
And, when I was young, fishing and hunting wasn’t just sporty recreation. We did it to eat. It was one of the great things about living in Washington. Families could live—and live pretty well—off of the land.
Has any state agency screwed up worse than WA Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)? Its failure to manage its portfolio of fish and game resources is just sickening.
The Director of WDFW is not appointed directly by the Governor but by a Board of Commissioners selected by the Governor. So, the Governor’s control over the Department is indirect. Frankly, the Commission structure hasn’t worked very well. As Governor, I will support reforming that set-up.
In recent years, the legislature has considered several different proposals for restructuring the WDFW Commission. None has gotten much traction. Some of those proposals would eliminate the Commission and return authority back to the Governor directly; others would go the opposite direction and expand the Commission to include more voices. Frankly, either approach would be an improvement over what we have now.
As Governor, I will measure WDFW’s performance by a simple set of questions: Are there fish in the water? Are there deer and elk on the land? Are sport hunters content? Are commercial fishermen content?
If the answer to any of these four questions is “No.” Then WDFW isn’t doing its job.
One final thought: The trouble that WDFW has had managing our system of state-run fish hatcheries is inexcusable. It’s an unforced error. We need to increase hatchery production immediately—no excuses! We have the mechanisms to do this. And general agreement from fish scientists at both the federal and state levels that we can increase hatchery production without disturbing the natural balance among different species.
We simply have to do this.