February 7, 2023

Washington DNR Chief Under Fire

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Yesterday, I gave you a link to watch a video from a local television station KATU-TV in Portland, Oregon about starving elk in the Mt. St. Helens region of northeast Washington.

Today, some politicians want heads to roll. Rep. Ed Orcutt (R) Kalama, last week issued a press release calling for the resignation of Fish and Wildlife director Jeff Koenings. Koenings inheritage the job back in 1999 facing a budget deficit of $17.5 million. Orcutt made his demands the day after visiting the Loowit Wildlife Refuge where the starving elk were located.

But not everyone see things the way Orcutt does. Fish and Wildlife Commission chairman Ron Ozment and Senate Natural Resources Committee vice-chairman Mark Doumit both supported Koenings saying he has done a good job under the circumstances.

Rep. Joel Kretz, who represents citizens from the northeast part of the state said in a press release of his own that the wildlife department has a “culture of arrogance” and “catering to animal rights extremists”. But Kretz fell short of calling for the dismissal of Koenings stating that he was going to wait to give Koenings a chance to respond to the accusations.

Not all this controversy seems to come solely from the starving elk problem in the refuge. According to Orcutt, who is a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, he and other members have complained to the wildlife department before and gotten little response.

Tom Remington