New governor names acting head of Fish and Game

JUNEAU — Doug Vincent-Lang, a former Alaska Department of Fish and Game official under Gov. Sean Parnell, will be the acting head of the agency under Gov. Mike Dunleavy, the new governor announced Monday.

The announcement came about 90 minutes after the end of Sam Cotten’s tenure as commissioner of the department as the administration of Gov. Bill Walker ended at 12:01 p.m. Monday.

In the prepared statement, Dunleavy’s office said, “The governor believes it is important that someone is in the position to manage the department while the Joint Boards of Fish and Game go through their process of nominating potential commissioners.”

In Alaska, state law provides that the governor pick his or her Fish and Game commissioner from a list of nominees suggested by the boards of fish and game, which will meet in joint session to finalize that list.

Anyone selected by the governor must be approved by the Legislature to become a permanent commissioner.

Dunleavy’s announcement forestalls uncertainty in the department: On Monday, the commissioner, deputy commissioner and several division directors were let go by the new administration.

Vincent-Lang served as director of the division’s wildlife department under Parnell after moving up through the ranks. He was an area management biologist in the Kenai during the 1990s and assistant director of the sportfish division in the early 2000s.

As a director, Vincent-Lang supported Alaska efforts to oppose federal protections for certain wildlife species, and his dismissal in 2015 by the Walker administration caused Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage (and now Senate president), to wonder if the new administration was hiring too many environmentalists.

More recently, Vincent-Lang was among the former state Fish and Game officials who opposed passage of the salmon habitat protection law known as Ballot Measure 1.

Correction: Vincent-Lang was dismissed in 2015 by the Walker administration, not the Parnell administration.

James Brooks

James Brooks was a Juneau-based reporter for the ADN from 2018 to May 2022.