Kentucky Senate panel votes to move the Fish and Wildlife Resources Department

Republished from WEKU.

Reorganization bills are typically a part of any Kentucky legislative session. But one drawing emotional committee testimony involves moving the Fish and Wildlife Resources Department to the Department of Agriculture. More than one member spoke about tempering executive branch politics in appointments. Madison County GOP Senator Jared Carpenter said billions of dollars in hunting and fishing licensing, federal dollars, and grants come through Fish and Wildlife.

“You don’t think that people up here get excited and want their hands on some of those dollars to use for not what we’re wanting to use for. That’s why this has become such a major issue. That’s why we’re concerned about it,” said Carpenter.

Representatives of hunting and fishing groups spoke out against the bill. They contend the Department of Agriculture would have less interest in preserving wildlife stock across the state.

Mike Abell told the committee he understood there were some leadership issues on the commission. But he added it comes and goes with leaders and changing systems to fix leadership issues is a bad plan.

Larry Richards of LaGrange said agriculturally-minded commission members could act to reduce wildlife stock.

“Need only increase bag limits and lengthen seasons over a decade to reduce wildlife populations that took us nine decades to recover. This type of action could see our wildlife population decimated and leave us explaining to our grandkids why there’s nothing to hunt or fish,” said Richards.

GOP Bill Sponsor Jason Howell of Murray said there’s a need for stability in Fish and Wildlife. Howell said there had been “slow-walking” hiring and travel request decisions. He said there would also be additional marketing impacts and that the Agriculture Commissioner and Fish and Wildlife Commissioner both support the change.

The bill passed out of committee.

“The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is a financial supporter of WEKU.”

Originally published by WEKU.

Republished with permission.