Putting the "Public" Back In "Public Trust"

"Personally, 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 May 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 the agency.

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 had. Here 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 need.
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 in Bozeman.

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 officer.

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 documentation trail.
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 that enough.

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 committee members.

Hope to see you there.

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu




Wildlife &



Bozeman, MT

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