By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – The state Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday agreed to post a job description for the next executive director of the department who will make close to $120,000 a year plus benefits when confirmed.
A search committee issued the description for a new leader which commissioners voted unanimously to accept.
Glenn Normandeau, who has held the position for three terms, attended the search committee meeting with commissioners to help them write the job description.
Normandeau did not get the backing of those commissioners for another term despite his hopes for the chance to finish out his career in the top job. He was critical in October of their handling of the issue behind his back.
Normandeau said the job requires dealing with everything from human rights groups concerned about hunting while squirrels are lactating (see below) to how to find money to operate one of the state’s most diverse departments in an increasingly difficult financial environment.
He said that most people who would be interested in the post likely know either what the job entails or know him personally from around the country.
A petition to keep Normandeau in his job has been circulating in the department.
The commission will work behind closed doors to interview applicants because it is a personnel issue, said Chairman Robert “Moose” Phillipson.
He said the commission will hand a name to Republican Gov. Chris Sununu – who nominated everyone on the commission except the outgoing Phillipson. Sununu will then either accept it and bring the nomination forward to the state’s Executive Council for confirmation, or will reject it and the commission will need to go back to find another applicant.
There would likely be at least two weeks between when the governor makes the nomination and when the council votes and it would likely include a public hearing, said Normandeau.
State Rep. Cathy Harvey, D-Spofford, who chairs the House Fish and Game Committee, attended the commission meeting. She said she had a very good working relationship with Normandeau despite the fact she is not a hunter or angler and knew little about the workings of the department when Speaker Steve Shurtleff asked her to serve in the role.
Harvey said she hopes that the next director would have the concerns of all citizens at heart, not just those who hunt and fish.
Her committee is expected to hear a number of bills related to the department’s work in the coming session. One bill looks at the makeup of the commission and would totally change the job description for those individuals as well.
The commission is currently composed of commissioners who each represent one of the counties plus one member who represents the Seacoast.
Language for the specifics of that bill is not yet available.
Paul Sanderson, the legal coordinator for the department, went over a list of expected bills in title only, 13 of which relate to the operation of Off-Highway Recreation Vehicles, many on public roadways.
Other bills relate to fines, definitions of resident, personal watercraft around marshlands, cases of cruelty of wildlife and neglect of animals, means to take a turkey during the youth hunt weekend, penalties for dog theft, and repealing the prohibition on hunting with a ferret.
The commission is mulling a request by Chester resident Kristina Snyder, an animal welfare advocate, who asked that the state shorten its squirrel hunt by two weeks, beginning each year on Sept. 15 rather than Sept. 1. That’s because she said squirrels are still nursing their young on Sept. 1 and a kill of a mother squirrel would leave the young to die.
The commission is looking at biennial rulemaking for game species, which are required by law to be revised every two years. Much of that information is based on hunter surveys.
The department has asked the commission to meet on Jan. 15 to get more information from those surveys to make a more informed recommendation for lengths of seasons and bag limits, which will go into effect for next fall.
The commission agreed.
The recommendations would then go to the commission which would likely hold public hearings on the proposed changes in about March 2020.
The commission also agreed to spend $7,122 from the Wildlife Habitat Account to buy a truck for the habitat program staff to perform its work. It would cost about $28,500 but most would be covered by the federal government.
Former Commissioner Dave Carney of Bow said he was concerned that the money, collected by hunters and anglers, is meant solely to buy land for habitat and that the money should not be used on trucks.
Mark Ellingwood of the department said the request is “reasonable and responsible,” and necessary for the program to conduct its work and it replaces a 2010 truck with 163,000 miles.
The program maintains habitats, infrastructure and property boundaries on more than 60,000 acres throughout the state.
The department is also preparing for public hearings Dec. 9 on marine bait dealer permits, OHRVs and wildlife tracking. For more information on those hearings https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgxwGBmwGGvxDWXtpSqsBGBQVJSnD?compose=new