Sunday, June 12, 2016

Oklahoma Wildlife Department Director Plans to Retire Oct. 1



Director Richard Hatcher, after a 37-year career with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said Monday he plans to retire Oct. 1. He made the announcement during the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission's regular June meeting in Oklahoma City.
    "Thanks for the opportunity to serve. I've enjoyed it," Hatcher said. He told commissioners his employment with the Wildlife Department has been a dream job, and he is grateful for the support he's received from Commissioners and from Department employees. 
    Commission Chairman John Zelbst of Lawton said the Department will conduct a nationwide search for the next director. He appointed Commissioners Bruce Mabrey of Okmulgee, John Groendyke of Enid and Leigh Gaddis of Ada to a search committee. He said Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague will have an advisory role on the committee. 
    Hatcher joined the Wildlife Department as Oklahoma's first furbearer biologist in 1979. He became a field supervisor in 1987 and was promoted through the ranks, becoming the Department's Director in 2009. 
    Hatcher has been instrumental in building relationships with other conservation organizations, private industry and landowners. He has served as chairman of several regional and national committees, and has received state and national awards from conservation organizations. As Director, Hatcher is responsible for both long-range programs and day-to-day progress, making sure the Department functions within the Commission's policy guidelines and budget.
    "I know it is  our field employees in all divisions who are the face of this agency and who are ultimately responsible for the many successes we have accomplished," Hatcher later told Department staff members. "I know the agency is being left in good hands. ... I am proud to have been of service in such a great mission as ours!"