Alaska’s recently retired top game warden now heads up Washington’s fish and wildlife police.
Chief Steve Bear took the reins Sept. 1 and will be given his oath of office at tomorrow’s Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Port Angeles.
Bear served for 27 years with the Alaska Department of Public Safety, spending the last 10 years as first the deputy director and then the director of the Alaska Wildlife Troopers division before his retirement as a colonel this past July.
In 2015 he oversaw 84 full-time wildlife troopers and 47 civilian employees.
Before joining law enforcement Bear served in the U.S. Army between 1985 and 1989.
At his new post in Olympia, Bear will oversee a staff of 156 WDFW employees, including 130 commissioned officers.
In a brief message to Northwest Sportsman, he said he has a lot to learn about Washington, its natural resources and hunters and anglers, loves to work to protect the resources, and hoped to work with as many folks from across the spectrum to that end.
“Growing up hunting, fishing, and trapping, I developed a strong sense of just how important natural resources are to everyone,” Bear said in a WDFW press release officially announcing his hire. “What draws me to this line of work is the idea of protecting those resources for this generation and future generations.”
“We look forward to Chief Bear’s leadership and experience being put to work in order to be the premiere natural resource law enforcement entity in the nation,” reads a statement in Director Jim Unsworth’s report to the commission ahead of the commission meeting.
Capt. Chris Anderson had been serving as the acting chief since the departure of former Chief Steve Crown to the Wenatchee Police Department. Before Crown, Bruce Bjork — who like Bear came from the state patrol — was Chief.
The director’s report also notes several promotions within the state’s game warden ranks:
“Lieutenants (Eric) Anderson, (Paul) Golden, (Phil)Johnson, and Sergeant (Mike) Jewell were all promoted to the rank of Captain. Officers (Ken) Balazs, (Carlo) Pace, and (Shawnn) Vincent were all promoted to the rank of Sergeant,” it says.