While far short of an outcry, the reaction among members of the conservation community to the appointment of Duane DeKrey as deputy director of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department isn’t surprising — now that the word is out.
No one’s applauding.
I wrote about DeKrey’s appointment Sunday, describing the naming of the former legislator to the Game and Fish post as “odd.” DeKrey’s record as a legislator and member of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee included opposition to pretty much every conservation measure proposed in the state in the past 15 years.
Terry Steinwand, director of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, announced the news of DeKrey’s hiring in an email to employees the afternoon of New Year’s Eve. The official announcement came out this afternoon, when Steinwand in a news release said he was looking for an individual who would work with him “to address challenges into the future.”
“Duane showed that he is willing and has the ability to integrate our current views, as well as provide a different viewpoint that will help move the department forward,” Steinwand said.
In my column Sunday, I said sportsmen and others with an interest in conservation — which is facing threats never before seen in the state — could be excused for being skeptical of DeKrey’s appointment. Traditionally, the job has gone to a person with a background in natural resources.
One response took exception to my use of the word “skeptical.”
“That’s the mildest term I’ve heard so far,” the reader wrote. “This is a travesty.”
Mark Mazaheri, a Fargo sportsman and longtime activist in the state’s fish and wildlife community, wrote a letter to Steinwand on Monday, copying it to several media outlets and others in the Game and Fish Department, criticizing the appointment as “totally unacceptable” and saying it had more to do with pressure from Gov. Jack Dalrymple than a hiring based on DeKrey’s merits or ability to do the job.
“It’s simply incomprehensible,” Mazaheri wrote. “DeKrey’s track record is clearly unsupportive of resident sportsmen and resource preservation. You need only look at his record on the Natural Resources committee to see that. He does not belong in the Game and Fish Department.”
Hopefully, DeKrey proves the doubters out there wrong. One thing’s for sure: They’re definitely watching.