- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2006

After it was discovered last year that a questionable African safari for Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries bigwigs was being underwritten with angler and hunter dollars, the department’s executive director, Bill Woodfin, was asked to resign in May.

That’s the least he should have done. Now, however, we learn that the department’s good ol’ boy network is alive and functioning. The state agency’s board waved a tearful goodbye and voted Woodfin a lucrative retirement bonus.

Virginia’s hunters and fishermen were outraged with such blatant cronyism. But now the general assembly’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission issued a report that says Woodfin’s sweetheart deal was improper. The enhanced retirement cost the fish and game agency around $101,000.

“That is money out of the pockets of the state’s hunters, anglers and boaters, who on July 1 began paying higher fees for many of the licenses required to hunt and fish,” Roanoke Times outdoors columnist Bill Cochran wrote.

The legislative review commission said: “One week prior to the executive director’s retirement date, a report issued by the state’s internal auditor indicated that the executive director had ‘inappropriately purchased items for an unapproved trip’ and the report also substantiated other allegations of questionable behavior. Officially, though, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Board accepted the executive director’s resignation and certified that the termination had been without cause, enabling the director to receive an enhanced retirement.”

Nothing will be done about this until the general assembly acts.

Illegal rockfish — The Maryland Natural Resources Police charged Levin Harrison III, 72, of Tilghman Island with possession of 31 undersized striped bass. The NRP said it caught Harrison with the illegal-sized fish on the property of Harrison’s Oyster House on Tilghman Island on July 21. The well-known charter fishing captain is better known as Buddy Harrison, not to be confused with “Little Buddy,” his son, Levin Harrison IV.

Early migratory bird seasons — The Maryland DNR announced the 2006-07 early migratory game bird hunting seasons. The dove season, which marks the traditional start of hunting activity each year in Maryland, will begin Friday, Sept. 1, and continue through Oct. 14 (noon till sunset only). The second and third of the split seasons will be Nov. 11-24, and Dec. 23-Jan. 3.

The early resident Canada goose season will run Sept. 1 through Sept. 15 in the eastern zone and through Sept. 25 in the western zone. The daily bag limit is eight geese. Then comes the state’s woodcock season, Nov. 3 through Nov. 24 and Jan. 13 through Jan. 20.

Early teal hunting season is scheduled for Sept. 14-23. This season is open only in the state lands east of Interstate 95.

All migratory game bird hunters, including landowners who are license exempt, are required to obtain the Harvest Information Program (HIP) permit and the Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp. Hunters must possess the printed receipt showing proof of purchase of the Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp while hunting migratory game birds. Migratory bird hunters are no longer required to sign and attach the Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp to their hunting license. Hunters may now purchase required licenses and stamps online by accessing them on DNR’s Web site at www.dnr.maryland.gov.

Non-resident doe permits — Starting Aug. 21, the Pennsylvania Game Commission will accept antlerless deer license applications from nonresident hunters. The game commission has developed a “Doe License Update” page on its Web site — www.pgc.state.pa.us — to provide hunters additional information on the antlerless license application process, including regular updates about the number of antlerless licenses available by Wildlife Management Unit (WMU). Look for it in the “Quick Clicks” box in the upper right-hand corner of the agency’s homepage.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail:[email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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