A WDFW employee working at a fish trap on the Duckabush River is presumed to have drowned on Tuesday, January 24, according to state officials and county deputies.
Mary A. Valentine, a 48-year-old seasonal scientific technician from Anacortes, didn’t check in with fellow team members that evening and was reported missing on Wednesday by a concerned coworker, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office reported.
WDFW officers and deputies began a search and found Valentine’s vehicle and dog in the area, and then her body was found in and recovered from the Duckabush.
“Preliminary investigation suggests that Valentine drowned while carrying out her responsibilities,” the Sheriff’s Office reported.
“We are extremely saddened with this loss,” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind in a statement posted yesterday. “Mary was a dedicated employee since 2022 and very committed to our work monitoring salmon and steelhead populations. She was a beloved team member at WDFW. Our hearts are with her family and all who knew and worked with her.”
Tino Villaluz of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community near Anacortes, who was calling in to the Fish and Wildlife Commission this morning to talk about the Conservation Policy, held a moment of silence at the beginning of his input in honor of Valentine.
Valentine is the second WDFW staffer to drown while performing her duties in the last six months. A 31-year-old fisheries biologist performing a summer steelhead snorkeling survey on the Wind River died last September.
WDFW reported that smolt trapping has been suspended on the Duckabush. Trapping is done each year to gauge how many smolts are outmigrating from systems around the state.