Search for new Fish and Wildlife director to begin in spring

The search for a new director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife will begin after the Legislature adjourns next spring.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission will conduct a nationwide search and hire a new person after what is likely to be a legislative session dominated by budget cuts, said commission chairman Jerry Gutzwiler.

On Dec. 1, the commission accepted the resignation of director Jeff Koenings, who left office last week after 10 years.

In the meantime, deputy director Phil Anderson will serve as the interim director. He has been with the department for 14 years.

"We're certainly not in a big hurry at this point," Gutzwiler said. "Phil Anderson is well respected by the commission and is viewed as a solid person by employees in the department."

Anderson and deputy director of operations Joe Stohr will work with staff and legislators to establish the department's budget and on any legislation affecting the department, Gutzwiler said.

With that out of the way, the commission will look to hire a person to lead the department with 1,600 employees and a budget of $280 million in recent years. The commissioners also will have time to find the person who best fits the needs of the department and its varied constituents.