Environmental Groups Call on Governor to Appoint New Fish and Wildlife Leadership

Sep 23, 2021

Environmental groups are calling for new leadership at the Washington State Department of wildlife, asking the governor to appoint commissioners to vacant and expired seats.
Credit Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

A slate of environmental groups are asking Governor Jay Inslee to appoint new, reform-minded leadership at the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. The requests come in the wake of an audit that recommends cultural changes.

In a letter sent Wednesday, a dozen environmental groups called on Inslee to fill two positions in the nine-member commission that leads the state agency.

Last week, the Washington State Auditor published an investigation that was prompted by high-profile cases of sexual harassment and high staff turnover. The report did not find sexual harassment was currently a systemic problem, but it did find employees were concerned about unprofessional behavior and a lack of accountability.

The groups, including Washington Wildlife First, Western Watersheds Projectand and the Mountain Lion Foundation, are urging the governor to appoint board members that understand science and climate change and value the wellbeing of both workers and wildlife.

“By appointing two reform-minded commissioners now,” the letter states, “you will be sending a message to agency staff that you heard the concerns that they so bravely voiced to the state auditors, and that you are doing what you can to bring needed change to the Department. It will also ensure that a full Commission is in place in advance of important upcoming votes on issues such as spring bear hunting, a new rule to regulate wolf management, a bold new conservation policy and decisions on Commission leadership.”

The Governor’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the governor’s commission appointments page, there are two open vacancies on the board. Currently, one member of the commission’s term expired last year, but he still appears to be an active member.

The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on his membership status on the commission. The agency did release a statement last week promising to address the issues found in the auditor's investigation. 

The environmental groups letter can be found here: