The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries reorganized last month, changing its organization structure to a more traditional fisheries and wildlife divisions structure.

Bob Duncan, DGIF director, explained that the department previously had three major divisions: wildlife, fisheries and diversity (which included all non-game species). Under the bureau model, they collapsed into one unit.

Bureau operations proved “cumbersome” at times, Duncan said. “Now, we’ve moved to two divisions, Terrestrial Wildlife Resources, which include both game and non-game animals, and Aquatic Wildlife Resources, which includes everything from freshwater mussels to gamefish,” he said.

Longtime DGIF official Gary Martel is the department’s deputy director and oversees the two major divisions, as well as law enforcement, agency outreach and a new resources unit.

Duncan has direct supervision over human resources, planning and finance (which includes information technology).The structure more closely aligns with how other fish and wildlife agencies are organized around the country.

Duncan said succession planning also factored into the change. For example, Duncan said Aquatic Wildlife Resources chief Mike Bednarski is a tournament bass fisherman and “a heck of a scientist.” He also praised Gray Anderson, the Terrestrial Wildlife Resources chief, who has a Ph.D in zoology and wildlife ecology. “Both are relatively new to the agency and have been here a couple years each. This is a great opportunity for them to get senior leadership experience to prepare them for opportunities down the road,” Duncan said.

The department still maintains a regional approach with district biologists and support staff responsible for specific geographic areas. Two of the four region manager positions are vacant. Rick Busch, who was the Region 4 manager, was tapped to lead the new Lands and Facilities unit, which includes all wildlife management area and forestry operations. Busch’s unit is aligned with the Terrestrial Wildlife operation.

A Federal Wildlife Resources unit, led by David Whitehurst, manages grants and capital projects. Duncan called DGIF federal grant programs manager Fred Leckie “probably one of the best in the country at what he does.”

A Wildlife Services unit, managed by Jeff Trollinger, is responsible for environmental services, wildlife action plans, and permitting.

Another career DGIF employee, Lee Walker, oversees the Agency Outreach Division, a wide-ranging operation that includes boater and hunter education programs, boat titling and registration and media. Wildlife biologist Brian Moyer heads up Virginia’s new “R3” (Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation of hunters) efforts.

Outdoors Advocate Ferrell Dies at 89

A fixture in the Virginia outdoors scene died last week after a long illness. Darrell A. Ferrell, 89, was a retired regional game warden captain for DGIF, a former federal game warden at Fort A.P. Hill and a leader at both local and national levels for the Izaak Walton League of America.

Ferrell lived in southern Stafford County. He spent 41 years with DGIF and is credited with teaching the first hunter education course in Virginia and helping launch the statewide training that followed. He was a regular guest on hunting and fishing radio shows and spoke at many events geared toward youngsters in the outdoors.

I got to know Ferrell while he was at A.P. Hill. He had many stories about his experiences in the field and took a low-key, personable approach to monitoring and checking hunters in the field. His commitment to conservation after retirement was manifested in his ardent involvement with the IWLA. He belonged to the Rappahannock and Prince William Chapter and served three terms as its president. He also served as a longtime IWLA national director.

Ferrell’s commitment to our outdoors heritage and promoting safe, ethical experiences in the woods and on the water leaves a legacy that will last for generations. He had also retired from the Virginia National Guard. He was buried Monday at Quantico National Cemetery.

Waterfowl Show set for next weekend

The 39th annual Rappahannock River Waterfowl Show is March 17-18 at the White Stone Firehouse. A wide variety of wildfowl art including original paintings, prints, decorative carvings, working decoys, folk art carvings, photography, bronze sculpture, jewelry and carving supplies will be available.

Color prints of a new painting by Artist of the Year, Steve Rogers of Lewes, Del., will be given away each day to show visitors. The painting depicts the menhaden boat, Rappahannock, that fished out of the Taft factory in White Stone in the 1930s. The top three entries in the 2018 Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp contest also will be on display all weekend.

The Rappahannock Carvers Guild’s annual wildfowl carving contest is March 17. Judging begins at 11 a.m. The Virginia Waterfowler’s Association will teach kids age 6 and up how to paint a decoy. The youngsters get to keep their work.

Doors open at 10 a.m. each day. Admission is $8 and good for both days. Children under 12 are admitted free with an adult. For more information, see , e-mail, or call 804/435-6355 or 804/787-3119.

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