Wildlife conservation division regional supervisor Tom Schumacher presents information to the Board of Game at a meeting in Petersburg in January. (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s division of wildlife conservation has filled a number of its vacant positions in Southeast Alaska. The division had lost a number of long-time biologists to retirement and job changes last year, leaving it short staffed.

Tom Schumacher is regional supervisor for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Wildlife. He uses a sports analogy and calls it a rebuilding year in the division in Southeast.

“Rich Lowell retired,” Schumacher explained. “So he was our Petersburg area biologist. Boyd Porter, who was our long-time Ketchikan area biologist retired at the end of September last year. Ryan Scott who was the regional supervisor here in Juneau took a different job at headquarters. Stephanie Sell who was the area management biologist in the Douglas office where I’m sitting now also decided to take a different job, so. Steve Bethune is our longest serving area biologist over in Sitka at three years.”

The vacancies left Schumacher and Bethune along with a few new hires to represent the division during the Board of Game meeting in Petersburg in January. The division manages Alaska’s wildlife, including hunting and trapping seasons and education.

The Petersburg job has been vacant since last summer. Rich Lowell retired after working that position since 2000. Program technician Hilary Wood has been the sole Petersburg employee for the wildlife conservation division since last July while Schumacher in Douglas and Bethune in Sitka have been filling in from afar.

That will change this month with the hire of new Petersburg area management biologist Frank Robbins.  He is originally from Texas and has worked for about eight years with wildlife conservation in Glennallen. He’s scheduled to start up in mid-May.

Schumacher said other positions in the region have also been filled.

“In Ketchikan we hired Ross Dorendorf as the assistant area management biologist down there about a year ago,” he said. “So he had some time working with Boyd Porter to get familiar with the area. Then after Boyd retired we re-advertised the position and Ross was the best candidate we had and he’s taken over as area management biologist in Ketchikan. And he just refilled his old position as assistant biologist with someone named Tessa Hasbrouck.”

Hasbrouck is originally from Petersburg and just finished up her master’s degree in wildlife through the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She also starts the assistant biologist’s job in Ketchikan in mid-May.

The vacant area biologist job in Juneau was filled last summer with the hire of Roy Churchwell. He came to the division after working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Fairbanks. That just leaves a regional management coordinator’s job which oversees the biologists. That was Schumacher’s job until he took over the supervisor’s role. Bethune in Sitka has been filling that role in an acting capacity. The division is recruiting for the coordinator’s job.