As you probably know, the directorship of the
Department of Natural Resources changed hands last week, and many of the
state’s outdoors folks have asked me if it is for the better of resources,
wildlife, and their own personal well-being.
I, of course, realizing that I am not the sharpest
tack in the box, have steadfastly demurred in my answers to the $64,000
question, until there have been some experts (and absolutely sane people)
available to expound on the matter.
I did, however, agree to join a panel of “in-the-know”
outdoorsmen to conduct some testing of the new director by providing one
question for the test. My initial "true-or-false" question was expanded
to "multiple choice" to give the director a fair chance of answering correctly
and, thus, qualifying for the position in the collective minds of the state’s
hunters and outdoors people. It is simple and straightforward:
woodpecker, wood duck, woodchuck, woodcock, and wood shed (so important
in some of our upbringing) are all members of a very large genus (kind)
of the animal kingdom. Which of the following answers is/are correct?
I’m not certain. I will have to ask Mitch, and my ward chairman, what is
I’ll tell you later--the economic welfare of no less than three people
and my home county must be considered.
It depends on how I’m feeling.
All of these important political considerations outweigh natural and wildlife
Levity in such a grave matter? Since
I started writing for newspapers on this important question the DFW (Division
of Fish and Wildlife, formerly Division of Fish and Game) have had a few
people who were more than somewhat qualified for various reasons--Woody
Fleming, John Mitchell, William “Bill” Barnes, and Don Foltz, a western
Indiana hog farmer, to name a few. But generally they have been politically
involved--including the director who once had employees seine some smallmouth,
ostensively to stock, when in reality he was planning (and carried out)
a big fish fry for poitical chums.
Let’s face it. A politico in the chair of the
DNR is nothing short of a round peg in a square hole. I said it 50 years
ago and I am saying it now. The replacement director may very well be a
great guy--even fit for a dinner invitation--and he may do some good things
for wildlife and natural resources. But that is the best thing you can
say for him. The new director’s strong suit is being twice elected as sheriff
of Clay County.
What we need in the director of the DNR chair
is a person who lives, breaths, and eats the natural resources our kids,
and their kids and grandkids, can trust to deal with his charge all the
days he is in power. And we need to start giving natural resources their
The late Governor O’Bannon was asked about the
chance of getting the DNR out of politics. No chance at all, O’Bannon said,
adding that it (the DNR) was too great a political plum to give up.
Supporters of Indiana’s age-old political spoils
system are quick to tell you (in defense) that it (the system) accomplishes
much because those in power are on “speaking terms” with other political
persons. Maybe they do, but it is a weak defense, one in which the good
of the party prevails over resources.