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N.D. Game and Fish wildlife chief Randy Kreil to retire

by Mike McFeely

Longtime North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife division chief Randy Kreil has announced his retirement. Kreil's last day at the department's Bismarck office will be Aug. 29, although his retirement won't be official until late September or October.

Randy Kreil

Kreil informed the staff at Game and Fish yesterday via e-mail. Kreil began working for Game and Fish as a contract employee 29 years ago. He spent five years working on endangered species and nongame wildlife before being named wildlife division chief in August 1994.

Kreil will appear on KFGO's "Mike McFeely Show" today at 3 p.m. Central.

In the e-mail announcing his retirement, Kreil said: "There is a long list of personal things (wife) Karen and I want to accomplish in the coming years. There are many friends in faraway places who we need to reconnect with, a new pup to train and teach, days in the field with rod and gun that need to be enjoyed, and a mountain of books that need to be read. There is also much work that needs to be done on behalf of fish and wildlife conservation in North Dakota. I intend to stay engaged and involved in the years to come. Exactly how this will occur I honestly do not know at this time. Hopefully we will get the chance to work together again in the future as we face unprecedented challenges and threats to wildlife populations and their habitats."

The challenges Kreil references may refer to the ongoing oil boom in the western part of the state, but North Dakota has also seen a steep drop in Conservation Reserve Program acreage and a loss of habitat as high commodity prices have spurred farmers to plow previously unfarmed areas.

Due in part to high harvests, difficult winters and a loss of habitat, North Dakota deer hunters will be issued only 48,000 licenses this fall. That's 11,500 fewer than last year and the lowest number since 1980.

His e-mail to co-workers ended this way: "In closing, I will promise you this. I will always stand ready to support and defend the Department and its dedicated professionals in any way I can. Anyone who is given the opportunity to work for this great agency owes the people and the mission of the Department this debt. I intend to repay this debt in full. I wish to thank each and every one of you, past and present, for your hard work, dedication, and friendship. I will miss working with you on a daily basis more than you can know. I hope to see you often. Preferably on a two track trail in the midst of a warm October afternoon under a bright blue sky against a backdrop of the reds, golds, yellows, and browns of the autumn prairie."

(Mike McFeely is a talk-show host on 790 KFGO-AM. His program can be heard weekdays from 2-5 p.m. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcFeelyKFGO.)