SALEM – The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has picked interim director Curt Melcher to continue at the helm of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The decision was announced at the Commission’s regular meeting last week in Salem.

Commission Chair Mike Finley and Melcher will meet to discuss the terms of his employment later this month.

Melcher, selected to succeed Roy Elicker, has had the interim post since September.

Melcher was among three finalists for the position following a national search for candidates. The other finalists were Edward Bowles, ODFW’s Fish Division administrator, and Krystyna Wolniakowski, former director of the Western Partnership Office, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

“We are very pleased at the prospect of having Curt as the new director and are confident he is the right person to lead this premiere fish and wildlife agency,” said Finley.

Last week’s actions included a question and answer session with the finalists, open to the public.

The director reports to the commission and manages a department with more than 1,100 employees, and a biennial operating budget of $345 million.

Melcher is a native Oregonian and a University of Oregon graduate, with a degree in biology. He has been deputy director for ODFW.

The Oregon Hunters Association issued a statement from state coordinator Duane Dungannon. He welcomed the selection of a director “with a background in wildlife management who knows the complexities of managing our state’s wildlife, given the political climate surrounding issues such as predation and forest and range management.”

The association also noted the challenges ahead: reversing long-term declines in elk and deer herds, dwindling hunter participation, and a $32 million shortfall due to lagging license and tag sales.

The OHA opposes continued fee increases to cover the gap, and urges more work to improve herd strength through habitat recovery and predator control.

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