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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Longtime Fish, Wildlife, Parks Chief Hagener Retires

Courtesy Montana FWP
Jeff Hagener

After putting in over 12 years and serving three governors, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department director Jeff Hagener retired this week.

The Republican from Scobey did not seek reelection this year because of term-limits.

Hagener stayed on for Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer’s first term, but was eventually replaced by Joe Maurier.

Current Governor Steve Bullock hired Hagener back in 2013.

State Senator John Brenden, who has chaired the Senate Fish and Game Commission since 2011 says he didn’t always agree with Hagener, but respected him tremendously.

“He is a person that I may not agree with all the time, which I didn’t when it came to buying land and a lot of these easements and private property rights, but I always felt that if we had a problem we went to each other, talked it over and went from there.”

Brenden also appreciated Hagener’s openness to dialog.

“He would talk to anybody, listen to anybody,” Brenden says. “I have his cell number, had it forever. If he was busy or gone, he’d call you back. That open-mindedness in Fish, Wildlife and Parks definitely is a great attribute.”

The Billings Gazette reports Hagener predicts his successor will face significant challenges including invasive species and wildlife diseases.

Earlier this month Governor Steve Bullock announced the exit of six cabinet members.

So far, he’s filled half the vacancies.

The search for Hagener’s replacement continues.

The administrator of Montana’s state parks department, meanwhile, is no longer employed by Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

FWP officials say Chas Van Genderen’s departure is a personnel issue and no further comment will be issued.