the "Public" Back In "Public Trust"
I would not recommend any new wildlife graduate
to seek employment in your department.
Alas, I am that disappointed."
- retired wildlife biologist"
There has been much misinformation floating
around concerning the Helena FWP administration decision to
cut the Native Species Biologist for Bison, which Arnie Dood
held. Sadly, much of that misinformation is partly originating
from Helena FWP itself. So below is the factual documention
to clarify what is really taking place.
I first brought up the 4% Personal Service Reductions in the
17th Newsletter, Selling A Birthright. As I gathered
more of the specific details, I shared them in the May
20th follow up Newsletter, Taking A Bullet For Conservation,
which put a face on the Native Species Biologist for Bison
position being cut and the 40 year FWP employee that was personally
affected - Arnie Dood. I encouraged members of the conservation
public to contact the Governors office, who is ultimately
responsible for FWP and the FWP Director concerning this unethical
treatment of a valued and dedicated wildlife biologist, as
well as his expertise on bison/this bison position within
I and others received a variety of replies from the Governor's
and Helena FWP office as to what was taking place, pretty
much justifying it.
|Thank you for contacting
the Governor's Office about the FWP Bison Planning Position
held by Arne Dood.
As a result of the Legislature’s mandate that FWP and
all agencies reduce the number of positions in state
government by 4%, FWP eliminated the position that Arnie
Dood was currently holding. When the legislature makes
significant cuts, difficult decisions that affect agency-wide
staffing and policies need to be made, and I rely on
my appointed agency leaders to make those decisions.
I know that Jeff Hagener has carefully weighed the impacts
of these choices.
I understand your concerns over the future of bison
management in Montana and want to assure you that moving
forward with the statewide bison planning process is
still a top priority. It is anticipated that the draft
Plan/EIS will be released in June. Lauri Hanauska-Brown
has been, and will continue to be the lead on this effort,
with necessary assistance from other appropriate staff.
Thanks again for contacting the Governor's Office and
please do so again with further questions or comments.
I have not received a reply from Helena FWP yet, but others
is Dir. Hagener's reply to a concerned sportsman, who also happens
to be a retired wildlife biologist. I am highlighting some
key quotes. As you will see, the Director states that Arnie
was not fired, but offered another position with his skills
and talents. Then goes on about the hot issue of elk brucellosis
and cattle, that there is a need for a full-time coordinator
for that issue, but he does not come out and directly say that
Arnie was offered the coordinators position, which he wasnt.
This is part of the Helena obfuscation that is circulating.
Additionally, he states that this position is offered in R3,
where Arnie currently lives, yet Arnie was never consulted about
any other positions in other regions. He was not asked if he
was willing to move, yet again, it is implied.
|We are intending to
move Arnie to another position which needs someone in
it with his skills and talents. No one likes to eliminate
positions, but the legislative mandate from the 2013
legislative session for the 4% personal services reduction
remained in place and resulted in FWP having to eliminate
the equivalent of 20.56 FTE. The Wildlife Division
was required to reduce 4.9 FTE and this position was
one of those identified. With the expansion of the
area where brucellosis has been detected in elk and
cattle, and the issues that brings forth, the need to
have a full-time coordinator to work with working groups,
landowners, livestock producers in general, sportsmen
and the general public has been identified as a critical
The brucellosis position offered to Arnie is one that
we thought would fit his skills and the department’s
needs best at this time. Additionally, that position
would be located out in R3 (Bozeman office), which is
where we understand that Arnie would like to remain.
There may be other positions that Arnie is interested
in, but we could not guarantee those positions be located
Now here is the Wildlife
Division Administrator's (McDonald) letter he gave to Arnie,
terminating his position. As you can see, it states the
following... Bear in mind that Arnie is curently and Band 7
and that no future pay rate was listed. The Brucellosis Technician
position is not only a demotion of his current position and
skill level, but it is a pay cut of an undetermined amount,
as McDonald did not fill it in. This is also a draft copy that
was given to Arnie, no other copy was presented to him. Brucellosis
Technician is not the Brucellosis Coordinator alluded to by
Dir. Hagener in his email. A pay cut would not only affect Dood's
salary, but also affects his future retirement.
|The department has
determined that the position of Brucellosis Technician
is available to you as a reassignment. This position
reports to the Region 3 Wildlife Manager and is assigned
to the Bozeman Office. Because this position is a Wildlife
Biologist Band 5 if you chose this reassigned, you will
be pay protected at your current base rate of $29.6220
for six months. On January1, 2016 your hourly base rate
will be $_._//hour.
I still had not received my Helena FWP request for a detailed
listing of what positions and employees were cut, if any of
those positions were already vacant and if vacant, for how long.
So Friday afternoon, I began calling the FWP Regions directly
to acquire the information. Here is what I have found out so
far after speaking with each Regions Supervisors. Of the 5 (4.9)
FTE (Full Time Equivalent) reductions in the Wildlife Division,
2 FTE involved Arnies position, which had a live person in it
and an already vacant position that Joe Weigand held with wildlife
fencing, both from the Helena office. There were 3 - .2 FTE
in Regions 4,6 and 7 Upland Game Bird, totaling .6 FTE.
Of the 6 Fisheries FTE, 1 FTE was a cutthroat biologist in Region
4, held by Dave Moser. BUT, he was transferred to Region 3's
Madison/Gallatin Fisheries Biologist position at the the same
pay level, so this live person was not demoted, reduced pay
or terminated. There were 4 other fisheries positions in Region
1 that were cut from the base FWP program. They were also live
employees, BUT their positions were transferred to another program
that is soft funded from another source. What this means is
that they still have their jobs and pay, but not the job security
of the FWP base positions. Those positions will need to be approved
with each legislature.
There is a .3 FTE reduction from another vacant position that
is still being negotiated from Region 7 involving an information
The bulk of the remaining positions are coming from Helena's
office and I was told I would be receiving that information
after June 1st. So far, the Native Species Biologist for Bison
position and Arnie Dood, look like the only live person cut
and being treated in this manner and again, he has been employed
by FWP for 40 years.
While still receiving return calls on my requests on Wednesday,
I received an email from FWP's Ron Aasheim stating that they
had not forgotten my request, that they were processing, "Will
have final info when that process is complete…June 1 is the
deadline." That wasnt that many days away, I thought. Then on
Thursday it hit me. I had been told on the phone last Friday
that the final list would be submitted to the legislature. Now
the 2015 Legislature is over, so FWP business is then handled
by the Interim EQC (Environmental Quality Council). If this
list was submitted to the legislature and finalized before the
public got to see it, comment on it, we might be stuck with
this unethical decision and the administrators ignoring all
of the Public's objecting calls and emails.
So I called one of our senators from Bozeman, Sen. Mike Phillips
to see if this 4% reduction list was part of an upcoming EQC
agenda. I then sent a request to Joe Kolman, Director, Legislative
Environmental Policy Office requesting information. Sen. Phillips
then replied to Kolman that the issue I raised should be added
to this next weeks EQC agenda and FWP Dir. Hagener was asked
to address it. Email
I also looked into the Montana Operations Manual - Implementing
a Reduction in Force Policy (2013 latest version). Which
states on page 1, "This policy established uniform agency procedures
for conducting a reduction in work force in Montana state government."
A little further on the page it states, Agency managers shall
consider employees' skills, qualifications (including performance),
and length of continuous service, among other factors, when
making reduction-in-workforce decisions." 40 YEARS! Cant say
The next section is the skills assessment, which Dood clearly
has, being considered for the Region 3 Supervisors position
I mentioned in the previous newsletter. Section b. states, "employees'
qualifications and experience that benefit the agency's future
goals and objectives;" Remember the Governors statement above,
"I understand your concerns over the future of bison management
in Montana and want to assure you that moving forward with the
statewide bison planning process is still a top priority.
I would like to ask about the qualifications of those that FWP
plans to handle the bison program? Are they anywhere comparable
to those of Arnie Doods? Why is this position and Arnie in particular,
being handled this way when all others, so far seem to be strategically
complying with this bs legislative cut, while protecting the
people and pay? Our sportsmens dollars, not the state general
fund, pay for the majority (99.5%) of this agency! I was thrilled to hear
how these situations were being negotiated so as to retain the
positions and the programs - yet Arnies is not and Helena FWP
seems not to feel as protective of the bison position, nor of
a 40 year employee that has been on the front line of a number
of these contentious species for FWP and the Public.
This coming Thursday you can object to this Native Species Biologist
for Bison position cut and how our 40 year public servant, Arnie
Dood is being treated in this process . Thanks to Sen. Mike
Phillips, the subject is being discussed at the upcoming EQC
Meeting. The FWP portion of the EQC
Agenda is on June 4th, Thursday. FWP matters begin after
the break about 10:00am. 1301
E. 6th Ave (the State Capitol building), RM. 172. This meeting
will be video/audio recorded and public comments will be added
to the record. If you cannot make it to the meeting, you may
e-mail a public
comment to Joe Kolman, the Director, Legislative Environmental
Policy Office for the EQC and he will get the comments to the
Hope to see you there.