September 29, 2022

Showdown in Washington

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The battle rages on in Washington between state Rep. Ed Orcutt and Fish and Wildlife director Jeffrey Koenings. Orcutt is demanding that Koenings be fired because of the poor job he is doing in managing elk in the Toutle Valley. This is an area around Mount St. Helens in northeastern Washington.

Orcutt was one of the ones that toured the area, including the Loowit refuge and found dead elk that had starved to death. Since then there has been posturing back and forth between the two men and those taking sides.

Last week the two squared off face to face in what some are calling a non-productive meeting of bullying and counter-bullying. They didn’t meet alone as each man brought their representative, or witness if you will. Orcutt was accompanied by Mark Smith, owner of a tourist camp in the Toutle Valley and in the other corner, Koenings had Fish and Wildlife Commission chairman Ron Ozmont.

This is what each person had to say about the meeting. First Ozmont –

“It was an interesting meeting,” Ozment said. “I’ll be perfectly blunt about it. Our impression was that Rep. Orcutt thought he could bully his way through it, and we threw it back in his face.”

And then Orcutt –

“I was really disappointed about the whole tone he took to the meeting. It was all, ‘He’s doing a good job and there’s no problem,’ ” said Orcutt, a Republican. “I really believe there has to be a change in the leadership of the department.”

Sounds like a lot got accomplished at that meeting, although Ozmont claims that Koenings promised that the department would implement a plan to manage the elk herd.

Neither side could reach a consensus on what direction the department should take.

*Previous Posts*

Washington’s Starving Elk in Loowit Wildlife Refuge

Washington DNR Chief Under Fire

Elk Herd Management in Washington – A Management Problem or Media Hype and Politics?

Tom Remington