Williams leaves USFWS for post with the WMI

Washington, D.C. Steve Williams, director of the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service since January 2002, announced in mid-March that
he’s leaving the agency to head the Arlington, Va.-based Wildlife
Management Institute (WMI).

Williams, 47, takes the helm at WMI effective March 20. WMI is a
long-established nonprofit group “dedicated to scientific wildlife
management.”

As director of the 8,500-employee USFWS, Williams traveled
extensively and visited the Midwest several times.

He’s addressed outdoors media each year of his tenure at the
Outdoor Writer’s Association of America conference, this year
slated for June in Madison.

Williams was attending the WMI-sponsored 2005 North American
Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Arlington, Va., which
continued through Saturday, and couldn’t be reached for comment.
His decision to leave the USFWS was regarded as unexpected in
chatter among conference attendees, according to sources with whom
Wisconsin Outdoor News spoke.

An avid hunter and advocate of outdoors recreation, Williams in
a message to employees before his departure called his three years
as director, the “greatest experience of my 20-year career in
professional fish and wildlife conservation.

“However, although I have personally struggled with this
decision, I have decided that it would be in my best personal and
professional interest to accept an offer to serve as the president
of the Wildlife Management Institute,” he said. “The offer to serve
in this capacity presents a narrow window of opportunity in my
long-term plans to serve conservation for the nation.”

In a letter to Williams, U.S. Department of Interior Secretary
Gale A. Norton thanked Williams for his service and noted his
accomplishments in conserving wildlife habitats, expanding
opportunities for fishing and hunting, and “advancing cooperative
conservation partnerships.”

“As I have traveled the country, I heard over and over how you
were rekindling the spirit of cooperation among state and federal
agencies and private partners,” she said. “Countless refuge
managers, biologists, sportsmen, and landowners complimented your
leadership, management style, effectiveness and great humor.”

Richard E. McCabe, executive vice president of the Wildlife
Management Institute, said his organization would benefit
substantially from Williams’ expertise.

“The Wildlife Management Institute is delighted that Steve
Williams will take the helm of this organization and bring to it
his considerable administrative experience and talent, as well as
his proven dedication to the conservation and professional
management of wildlife resources,” McCabe said.

Williams was confirmed in his current position in January 2002.
He previously served as secretary of the Kansas Department of
Wildlife and Parks and held positions in the Pennsylvania Game
Commission and Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Williams earned a doctorate in forest resources at Pennsylvania
State University, University Park; a master of science degree from
the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks; and a bachelor’s
degree in environmental resource management, also from Pennsylvania
State University.

He is a member of the International Association of Fish and
Wildlife Agencies, the Wildlife Society, and other professional and
conservation organizations.

The USFWS last week named Matt Hogan acting director. He’s
served for the past three years as deputy director and is a former
conservation policy director for the Congressional Sportsmen’s
Foundation. President George W. Bush will nominate a permanent
replacement, which the U.S. Senate must confirm.

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