Kevin Duffy picked to head Fish and Game Department

Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- Gov. Frank Murkowski on Wednesday picked Kevin Duffy to head the state Department of Fish and Game.

Duffy has been acting commissioner since December and was a deputy commissioner under Gov. Tony Knowles.

''His ability to manage has certainly been proven,'' Murkowski said. ''He has handled and will continue to handle some of the more difficult and controversial issues associated'' with the department.

Murkowski said he and Duffy agree the department should manage for the ''highest sustainable yield'' of game, including controlling predators if necessary to produce more moose for subsistence hunting. That position is likely to be contentious because it involves killing wolves.

Duffy has also had to answer criticism of Murkowski's decision to move the responsibility for issuing permits for projects that could disrupt fish habitat from Fish and Game to the Department of Resources.

Critics say habitat protection will suffer if decisions on permits are made in an agency whose mission is developing the state's resources, rather than in Fish and Game, whose mission is to protect fish and game.

Duffy said he believes the move will streamline the permitting process, while maintaining protection for habitat.

Duffy was one of two commissioner nominees the Boards of Fisheries and Game forwarded to the governor. The other was John Hilsinger, a former regional commercial fisheries supervisor for the department.

State law requires the governor to pick a Fish and Game commissioner from candidates nominated by the boards.

With Duffy's appointment, Murkowski has only one cabinet position yet to fill, the commissioner of education. Nominees for that position must come from the state Board of Education and Early Development.

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