Gilmer Free Press

West Virginia DNR Director Frank Jezioro has drawn the ire of a number of lawmakers who are now calling for his dismissal from the position


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State lawmakers are calling for the immediate firing of state Division of Natural Resources Director Frank Jezioro. Members of the legislature made the formal request in letters to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in the final hours of the legislative session. Thirteen Senators and 26 Delegates asked for the termination in two separate letters to Tomblin, citing an inability to work with Jezioro and his continued interference with efforts to accomplish legislation.

“A lot of legislators and myself are not pleased with his attitude. He really doesn’t want to work with the legislature,” said Delegate Rupie Phillips of Logan County. “From the deer farming to the elk restoration to several things that other delegates and Senators have brought to my attention. He’s the EPA of the DNR.”

The deer farm legislation was expected to pass, but died on the final night of the legislative session.  The bill would have transferred regulatory control of captive cervids in West Virginia from Natural Resources to the Department of Agriculture.

“We’re trying to promote, grow, and let that industry flourish in West Virginia and we were getting nothing but stonewalled from the DNR, That’s why we were trying to make a move.” said Senator Daniel Hall of Wyoming County. “We shouldn’t even have to make that move, but we were getting no cooperation from the DNR and we felt that was the only option we had left.”

The House version of the letter is strongly worded:

“His behavior is a detriment to his agency’s mission. He has stepped beyond the role of providing information on proposed legislation and has evolved into excessive lobbying of both the Legislature and outside groups on many issues that are within the purview of the legislature, including predator control, state parks, and captive cervids.  This overreach by the Director and his leadership team applies to nearly all of the programs of the Division including law enforcement, wildlife, parks, and fisheries.”

“He’s taken it upon himself to incite, in his own words 400,000 hunters in West Virginia to oppose this legislation and to try to control what goes on in the legislature,” said Hall. “Riling up and not just giving false information, but incomplete information trying to scare hunters out there into what he wants them to believe.”

Phillips’ major issue with the Director has been slow action on the push to reintroduce elk in southern West Virginia.  Phillips believed Jezioro has deliberately hamstrung the effort with wording of land agreements now in the hands of large land holding companies where the elk would be placed.

“The same companies who signed agreements in the state of Kentucky won’t sign Frank Jezioro’s version,” Phillips explained. “They’ve indicated they are willing to sign an agreement similar to those in Kentucky, but not the ones proposed so far in West Virginia. We’re missing a great opportunity here.”

Jezioro told a House subcommittee during interim meetings this year he would be adamant that any agreement allow elk to be accessible to the public from now on. The exact wording which has created the divide hasn’t been publicly revealed.

Jezioro tells MetroNews he never received a copy of the letter and only learned about it this week during a conversation with Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette.

“I have no idea who they are talking about that I called,” Jezioro said. “I don’t recall calling anybody and giving out misinformation.”

Jezioro said he was unaware of any of the claims made by lawmakers in the letters, especially in terms of lobbying sportsman’s organizations in the state.

“All these organizations openly came out against the Senate version (of the deer farm bill). They’re blaming me for that.  I wish I had that much influence with the thousands of people who belong to those organizations,”  he said. “I don’t recall making any call to any sportsman organization.  I never did it. I didn’t talk to their representatives at all.”

Jezioro also bristled at the allegation he engaged in “lobbying” against legislation.

“I never lobbied anybody and deliberately stayed away from the capitol this session because I’ve heard these claims before,” he said. “That the deer farm bill didn’t pass because of Frank Jezioro.”

Jezioro said he’s had no contact with Governor Tomblin about the letter or any other matter. 

“The Governor has received the letters and he’s reviewed those and spoken to Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette.” said Tomblin Administration Spokesperson Amy Shuler-Goodwin.  “He’s currently working on bill signing legislation, but he and Secretary Burdette will be following up on this issue soon.”

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  • old timer

    Mr. Jezioro has been a total disaster for the DNR. he has all but destroyed law enforcement and allows a twice convicted drunk driver to stay on as head another part of the DNR even though he can't drive a state vehicle and that adds the expense of providing him a driver to get him to official functions. he is nothing but a buddy of Joe Manchin who was an insurance man before he got the DNR to play with.

  • Cory Bothe

    Let the people decide, not the politicians.

  • C. F. T.

    Jezioro, has been a fantastic DNR Director, many positive changes have occurred under his watch that have improved hunting and fishing in WV. He has a tough job pushing for change within the beurocratic intrenched employees of the DNR, the politicos who only want to pander for more votes and special interest groups who want there way or the highway.
    From what Jezioro has done in the past and what he wants to accomplish WV Outdoors will be better for all.

    • MeTarzan

      C.F.T. you haven't the slightest idea what you are talking about. I suppose running around in a DNR bought and paid for vehicle with his hunting dogs makes him fantastic? There is a need for someone to lead the agency not just part of it when and if he decides to show up to work. When there are many of those entrenched DNR employees as you say keeping things going on a daily basis how dare you give this POS political ass bag credit!

      • thornton

        As long as it is comforting to complain in the dark about any state DNR, one will hear such silliness. One sees it on all state hunting/fishing message boards. Old news, sad news, predictable news.

    • Hollow hunter

      Apparently you don't know him like we do up north ! He was a journalist. Joe Manchins buddy. Nothing else. Why do you think his coworkers called him JEZ HUH OH!

  • Marion

    Sweeeeet. ! It's about time !

  • joe public

    Nice to see a leader in DNR stand for the public's best interest. Looks like that the special interest groups here are the deer farmers and big land holders in southern WV and are only after their pocket books. Doubt many WV citizens would like to see Elk herds on private and controlled land in a few years, while the deer farmers want to release the safety measures in place that may risk the threat of cwd to the state's deer herd. Yes, some places have too many deer and other issues, but we need and agency that recognizes them and works in methodical and educated manner to correct the problems while preserving the traditions of hunting for future generations. I sure don't have the answers and I think the DNR does a good job at managing our state's resources.

    • Cook

      Joe Public......All I can say is clueless, you have to be blindfolded or just plain blind to think the DNR has done a good job for the past five to ten years

      • Expand your mind

        Substantiate your claim - name something..

  • Dustin

    You know you are screwed when someone drives up and says"I am from the government and I am here to help".

  • thornton

    Deer farming...terrible idea other than if it spreads CWD. Basically though, some deer farmers, or folks who want to be deer farmers, are mad since they saw some lucre possibilities disappear and they whined to legislators courting and counting votes. I expect that some "hunters" also like the idea as that can mean that a larger set of antlers can be purchased and make for ego conversation fodder down at the barbershop.

    Elk...another terrible idea that is in play simply because KY can't keep their elk at home. But, I expect the elk idea to eventually be a reality...just the particulars of the situation and the selfishness of some "hunters". Again, whining "hunters" or those simply hoping to hear the majestic(or mangy, take your pick) elk's bugle echo from ridge to ridge(almost the same elk, almost, that became extirpated for reasons as sound as those that saw the eastern woods bison extirpated) are to blame.

    Politicos care not the biological reasons for or against any DNR project...they only care for the next vote tally in their district. If he did, then it was nice to see Jezioro stand up to the legislative dolts seeking little but face time in print and high-fives from constituents. While I would like to see Jezioro push for more regarding a healthy diversity of timber age class in habitat on state acreage and expect there are other areas in which we would not agree....kudos for Director Jezioro!

    Nice looking pointer, as well...wonder if that is hunting club land?.....hope not. Those folks are worse than the legislative dolts in Charleston...far more selfish and self-focused.

    • Expand your mind


    • learn the facts

      Wake up thornton

      deer farmers deer are tested, vet checked, TB tested.they are taking care of in any health issues.Years ago Cattle, horses,duck, turkeys,dogs and cats were wild .

      • thornton

        Farming wonderful to provide such sport for such sportsmen.

        CWD does not personally bother me much....kind like an oft needed dose of salts to clean out the system.

        • Jack

          Deer faming is not all about selling the deer for hunts. BUT, if someone wants to hunt in a fence who are you to judge them? As far as I'm concerned, we are all sportsmen and chose to do things our long as those means are legal? If you are against high fence hunting, then I can only assume you never fish farm raised stocked trout.

          • thornton

            Not all, no.

            Personal ethics will often require us all to see and comment upon situations that make us cringe...or should. Some situations will even involve those who fork out money to buy a hunting license. Ignoring actions and ethics simply because of a license in a wallet?
            That would be sad.

            Many folks do not mind shooting a deer with an equivalent tag in it's ear....they simply turn that tag to the wall.....and build a good story. It happens and it will continue to happen as long as competition and a wallet leads the way. Those deer farmers that are enablers for that mentality....I have no concern for their remaining in business.

            As a kid, I once walked the bank of a trout fishing business...the trout swam around the pools unconcerned, perhaps wondering if I was going to be tossing in pellet feed. Acting much like a penned up deer or elk might do or as they approached a friendly feeder or heard it whir within their fenced world.

            I caught a couple of those trout.
            I also grew up...I reckon though, that I matured first.
            As even then, I would have seen the silliness of your analogy. A hunting license is not or should not be a free pass to "I want to...", regardless of legality. WE should be better than using legality as an excuse for "I want to..." or ME!

    • Cory Boothe

      If you are in a hunting club, you are self-focused and selfish? Not only a broad generalization, but an incorrect one also.

      I disagree that wanting something as a "hunter" makes you selfish as suggested in your paragraph about elk reintroduction.

      • thornton

        Pretty much, yea....the loss of public access of once open Corporate acreage...a sad thing.

        Deer hunting drives Leasing...Leasing is self-focused and selfish....on once open Corporate ground,. On true Private...then that is the individual owner's decision but it is unlikely that that individual owner once received tax benefits by allowing public access.

        It is a generalization though....but one that few really think deep enough to see what is being lost. That does not even address the deer hunters who skirmish line the woods for ruffed grouse after deer, yea....the Stormy Kromer fits, for those and many other reasons.

    • WhgFeeling

      Actually thornton you might want to do a little more research into the CWC myth and deer farming.

      • thornton

        CWC??...nah, that would be more like wishful thinking. Better things to do than research that potential.

        Farming deer tho?...a low shelf money grab preying upon deer hunter needs. Hopefully, the few deer farmers don't succeed with ousting a DNR Director on that basis.

        • learn the facts

 are deer farmers taking the deer hunters need.they are born behind the fence not in the wild.and none are turned out into the wild.

          • thornton

            Some of the farming for deer is for antler development or genetic force-multipliers for resale or for hunting potential....some deer hunters find each a reason to eventually spend big bucks. High-fence hunting is a negative all it's own, as to hunting ethics and appearance. Preying on or taking advantage of an emotional need for large it how one wants...bad juju.

            If you do not think that happens then look well beyond WV ...maybe some Amish in Ohio..and...learn the reality. Facts themselves can be ignored or concentrated upon to deliver a poster's version of reality.

            I gave up any interest in those woods rats decades ago but acknowledge many love to hunt them...some for reasons beyond meat in a freezer. CWD does not bother me, at all.

            What does bother me is when legislators bow to special interest groups and what occurs is often an abandonment of sound scientific thinking. This applies to the mismanagement of our NFs, the deer hunter feeding of nest predators and on and on.

            What you have with this silly Jezioro attack is a general dislike of the DNR, some selfish deer farmers and elk folks, those hating Manchin and so applying that connection to Jezioro...maybe even the guy's one-time insurance connection. All childish...all off topic of sound thinking. nothing wrong with folks disagreeing on that soundness but when using some of the reasons expressed here to do it or ignoring reality....dumb, just plain dumb.

    • thornton

      I'll add...nice Elsie broke on the log also.

  • WV Man

    The real sportsmen-fishermen have asked the DNR repeatedly over the years to close streams after stocking for one week or more to allow the hatchery trout to disperse so that they aren't all caught out by the truck followers.

    Others streams can be open at the same time, giving the opportunity to fish while some streams are closed and then switch the streams for the same procedure.

    Under the present system the truck trailers get the lion's share of the trout and it is not fair to those who work and cannot fish until later. Other states have moratoriums after stocking why can't we?

    Plus, the trout bag limit should be reduced from six to four. I've trout fished for over 50 years and would welcome all of the above if the WVDNR would get on the stick.

    • Lynn

      Back in Whitmer, call those people fish hogs

      • Mason County Contrarian

        I have christened them the "Bucket Brigade" at Krodel in what is left of Point Pleasant. So-called "sportsmen" bring their empty five-gallon buckets to serve as a chair and a trout carrier.

        By the time weekend fishermen get a chance to wet a line there is nothing left.

        There ought to be a law.....but there isn't.

    • Big Jim

      +1 WV MAN

  • jimbob

    The DNR is engaged in a campaign of deceit, half-truths, and innuendo in regard to the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument efforts...

    • ignorant bystander

      The DNR has never made a stance on the potential travesty that is the proposed Birthplace of Rivers Monument. The monument proposal is a cowardice attempt to have an edict passed by the President with no say so from the public.

  • packman

    Our dnr is a joke they should all be fired they have had the same philosophy for the last 50 years time for a change

  • Big Jim

    The director of the DNR should be a game biologists, not a cronie of a Governor.

    Several things within the DNR, need to be changed immediately.
    1. Crossbows should be legalized- You wouldn't believe the amount of people using them now anyways.
    2. Increase DNR patrols. Starting in early August I hear gunshots every evening and nothing is done about it. Increase the use of robodeer or other methods of catching poachers. When you do catch them, make the penalties so that nobody will want to do it again.
    3. Increase the penalties for those caught, especially on crimes that are inexcusable. Two young men in my county poached over a 100 deer a few years ago and left them lay in the field. They got got a fine of 1,000---- What a joke.
    4. Establish an Elk Herd in the State-- Kentucky is reaping the benefits--why ca\n't we?
    5. Start a timber cutting plan for National and State Parks. We are hurting the natural cycle of succession in our WV forests.
    6. Start a trout stocking program similar to Maryland --where certain waters are closed after they stock for so many hours. This would stop the stock trout parade and allow fish to be in the rivers/streams for everybody. Just not the ones who don't have a job.
    These are in particular order, but changes need to be made. we are losing too many of our young people to video games and prescription drugs.

    • Don't the the door hit you in the butt

      We have been asking for crossbow legalization for five years. MD, PA and VA legalized it long ago. They put an additional fee on it and have recorded no negative data for over five years. Wake up WV DNR! The rest of your submission is right on target!

    • Dustin

      Also need some changes in the deer hunting, do we really need to allow someone to be able to kill 9 or 10 deer. I know several guys who tired of all the crazy deer seasons.

      • JL

        Agree with Dustin to liberal deer regs. We need someone to stand up for the hunters not the insurance companys.He needs to go

      • Marion

        I disagree with you to an extent. Some places not enough deer, some too many. I myself. Between me, my wife,and my son we put around 12to14 a year away in the freezer and canning. I know some of you are gonna flip at that amount but how much meat ( in lbs.) do you think that comes up to ? About 20-25 lbs. per deer. If you get more I don't want to eat your deer meat. You do the math. It's alot healthier,tastes better,but not cheaper than beef if you figure in the costs of hunting. So keep the limits the same but curtail where needed.

        • greedy

          12 to 14 deer a year? how greedy are you?

          • Marion

            Greedy ! Would it make you feel better if it was road kill ?!!! Bet not !!

          • Marion

            Hey greedy !! If it wasn't for myself, wife, son, family& friends they would be shot & left to lay ! We eat them ! So don't you dare tell me it's greedy! People like you piss me off! You must be a CABELAS trophy killer ! HUH!

    • Chuck

      By state law timber can not be cut on state parks and by federal law timber can not be cut on national parks.

    • Mason County Contrarian

      Agree with every idea. They all make good sense--which means they will never happen. Too much $$$ changing hands from archery lobby to allow crossbows, cronyism left and right is rampant.

      Just like state government.

    • zero tolerance

      #6 +1

  • Independent View

    Apparently, Harry S. Truman's famous saying of, "if you want a friend in Washington, buy yourself a dog" does not apply in Charleston.

  • Independent View

    I meant to identify Delegate Rupie Phillips as a strong advocate of sportsmen's rights.
    Apologies for the mistake.

  • Independent View

    I have never met Delegat Rupie Phillips, but I do not that is a very strong advocate of sportsmen's rights, proper fisheries and wildlife management and stopping "Robo Cop" antics by Conservation Officers.
    Further, I do not support transplanting Elk to Southern West Virginia coalfields because the Wild Board program was a complete fiasco and a total waste of sportsmen's license dollars and nobody waas ever held accountable for it.
    However, accountability seems to be sorely lacking at the DNR if one bases that opinion on the Wild Boar program's total failure and a division chief being caught twice for DUI, without any repercussions on Jezioro's watch.
    Even if Jezioro manages to hold onto his job, at the least, he and his regime will know that they have some delegates and senators looking over his shoulder.

  • Hunter

    Something doesn't add up here and I believe it's the legislature.

    Agribusiness belongs to Dept. Of Ag. But, the very real threat of CWD to our wild deer herd is well documented and captive cervids are indeed correlated with CWD.

    I believe that both agencies should be involved and in this political climate not likely. Jezioro is a Manchin man - being appointed as director his 1st term as Gov. The Dem national party is tanking in WV and this might be retribution politics. Dunno. But, the bills before the incompetent legislature that I personally favored, user fees for non sportsman on WMAs, and crossbow use (though I'll never have one), seemed like common sense, fair ideas to me.

    As for elk, not sure what's going on but I favor hunter access and not private land/corporate land locks on a resource our licenses pay for.

    Bottom line, I don't care for Jezioros politics but his DNR plans seem fairly well based. Perhaps he's been listening to that old school Emily Fleming (legislative liaison/assistant director ) chick too much who's been there for years and is too much of a political caterer.

    Legislature needs to go back to school and learn more science if they're to pass any wildlife bills.

    • learn the facts

      Really, where is it well documented?The problem is People have been miss lead to believe things that just isnt true,and instead of reasearching the facts they jump on the same band wagon.

    • learn the facts

      We have CWD in West Virginia ,However there has NEVER been one case of CWD found on any deer farm in West Virginia. people need to learn the facts before they make uneducated remarks.

      • wvu09

        Amen...I'd also point out that every deer that dies on a deer farm is tested. This has been mandated for over 10 years and still no CWD has been found!

      • cmturkey

        Your right "learn the facts" and I attribute that to the strong regulations in place under the DNR's regulatory authority over deer pens. Just think, if Helmick gets the authority to open the gates to anything coming and going and we get a positive CWD on a deer farm, we can say "That never happened under the DNR's watch"!

    • JJ

      Well said.

      I would add that only in WV would the legislature think they know better than biologists about how to manage wildlife.....

      • Casual fan

        Raise your hand if you have confidence in our legislature to make sound decisions regarding game management in our state.

        • thornton

          A hand? about one finger for the legislature?