- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Gov. Dennis Daugaard says a native South Dakotan who works as a hunting and fishing administrator in Alaska will be the state’s next secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.

Daugaard on Tuesday announced that Deadwood-born Kelly Hepler will replace Jeff Vonk, who will retire in January after serving as the agency’s secretary since 2007. Hepler has worked as an assistant commissioner in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game since 2010.

Daugaard says he’s “thrilled” to bring Hepler back to South Dakota.

Hepler has worked in the Alaska department since 1979.

The governor’s office anticipates Hepler will begin by March 2015, and Parks Division Director Doug Hofer will manage the department in the interim.

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