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Sports >  Outdoors

Idaho Fish and Game director set to retire

Dec. 2, 2022 Updated Fri., Dec. 2, 2022 at 7:56 p.m.

Ed Schriever, Idaho’s Fish and Game director, poses Feb. 1, 2019, at the Panhandle Regional Office for Idaho Fish and Game in Coeur d’Alene. Schriever has served as director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game since 2019. He will retire from the position in February following 39 years with the agency.  (TYLER TJOMSLAND)
Ed Schriever, Idaho’s Fish and Game director, poses Feb. 1, 2019, at the Panhandle Regional Office for Idaho Fish and Game in Coeur d’Alene. Schriever has served as director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game since 2019. He will retire from the position in February following 39 years with the agency. (TYLER TJOMSLAND)
By Eric Barker The Lewiston Tribune

LEWISTON – Effectively managing fish and wildlife populations while meeting diverse societal expectations is an intricate balancing act in the eyes of Ed Schriever.

The dexterity and diplomacy required to pull it off is difficult and in the coming decades it’s quite likely to become even harder. But it’s also a lot of fun.

Schriever has served as director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game since 2019. He will retire from the position in February following 39 years with the agency.

“I love this job. But it does suck the wind out of you. It’s rewarding but demanding,” he said . “And I am ready to probably be able to do things a little bit more on my time frame.”

The agency is mandated by a citizen’s initiative passed in 1938 to preserve, protect and perpetuate the state’s fish and wildlife and to provide Idaho residents continuous supplies for hunting, fishing and trapping. Schriever said that makes it a public service job that demands a balance between protection and use.

“I love the fact that I worked for the people. Now there’s a lot of folks who look at Fish and Game work and go, ‘Oh, they work for the fish and wildlife.’ I’ve never looked at it that way,” he said. “I’ve always worked for the people. The fish and wildlife belongs to them, they don’t belong to the Fish and Game Department. And we try to make sure they are there for the people and that the people get as many of the opportunities out of the wildlife as they want, whether that is hunting and fishing, or watching them and knowing they are going to be protected for perpetuity.”

He began his career in 1984 as a hatchery technician in southeastern Idaho. He eventually moved to Lewiston, where he first worked as a fisheries biologist and then as the fisheries manager for the Clearwater Region.

“I got to work in just some tremendous country and with unbelievable resources. I got to do things I only dreamed of,” he said. “The fish manager job in Lewiston – when I was in college studying fish, that was a dream job in a dream place. Salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, cutthroat – that is a fish biologist’s, a fish manager’s dream.”

From there, he moved to Boise to head the fisheries bureau and later became deputy director before being selected by the commission to lead the agency. In that role, he tried to ensure agency employees, which he described as dedicated and skilled, had clear direction and the resources needed to do their jobs.

The direction comes from the department’s various management plans that are authored by the agency and the public and approved by the commission.

“I think when the administration and the commission define the direction and the goals, and you give the folks what they need, I think the motivation just is inherently there,” he said.

During his tenure, the department has seen the state’s wolf population stabilized at about 1,500 animals. Schriever said he would like to see it closer to 500. Reducing wolf numbers, the department’s stated goal, has proven difficult despite liberal hunting and trapping regulations. But Schriever said wolf harvest has been effective in reducing some conflict.

“Even though the total mortality on wolf populations have been pretty stable and the wolf populations have been pretty stable, we have been able to shift more harvest into those places in the state where we are having chronic livestock depredations and we have seen a downward trend for the four years of my directorship.”

As director, Schriever and the agency started the difficult task of trying to balance the state’s abundant deer and elk hunting opportunities with growing complaints from hunters of overcrowding. The agency scaled back nonresident participating by limiting the number of tags available to out of state hunters, by game management unit or elk hunting zone.

Schriever said in some areas, the number of nonresidents dropped from 40% of all hunters to 15%.

If hunters continue to feel crowded, he said residents will have to speak up.

“Residents are going to have to start to become part of this conversation about, do they want to limit themselves, do they want to limit their own opportunities in order to make it less crowded during the hunting season? And that’s going to be a very interesting question.”

Put another way, it’s a matter of balance.

“You can’t have less crowding without losing opportunity,” he said.

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