Olympia, WA – After three years as director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Dr. Jim Unsworth informed the state Fish and Wildlife Commission that he will resign his position, effective February 7, 2018. Unsworth joined the WDFW in February 2015 after serving more than 30 years in wildlife management with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, including several years as the agency’s deputy director. He previously held multiple management positions for the Idaho department, including wildlife bureau chief and state big game manager.
Soon after becoming the WDFW director, Unsworth initiated a multi-year initiative to strengthen the department’s relationships with communities, increase support for conversation and outdoor recreation, and help ensure WDFW programs and services met the public’s needs. These discussions helped launch several efforts to improve the department’s customer service and responsiveness, including the simplification of fishing rules, the development of a more user-friendly website, and creation of a fishing regulation application for smartphones and other mobile devices.
In a letter to the WDFW Commission and staff, Dr. Unsworth stated:
This has been a challenging, educational, and often rewarding experience. It is now time for me to pursue other professional and personal goals in wildlife and natural resources management.
I have had some great experiences as director, but by far the best part of the job has been getting to know many of you. I appreciate your professionalism, work ethic, and passion for fish and wildlife.
Brad Smith, WDFW Commission Chairman, said that the Commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW, will name an interim director as soon as possible and will initiate a national search to be Dr. Unsworth’s replacement. Brad Smith had this to say of Dr. Unsworth’s service:
Over the last three years, Jim has done an outstanding job of guiding the department through the complex challenges that comes with managing natural resources in Washington. We greatly appreciate his contributions to the department and wish him well in future endeavors.
Further information about the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission can be found here.