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Mississippi wildlife director retires after 29-plus years

January 31, 2022 GMT

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The longest-serving leader of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks is retiring after more than 29 years on the job.

“I could have never imagined in 1992 that this opportunity would evolve into a life’s calling that would endure for nearly three decades,” Sam Polles said in a news release Monday.

Monday was the last day for Polles to be executive director, the agency said. He was first nominated to the post in July 1992 by then-Gov. Kirk Fordice, a Republican.

Polles was kept in the job by Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and Republican Govs. Haley Barbour, Phil Bryant and Tate Reeves. Reeves, who’s in his third year as governor, will nominate a new executive director who will need to be confirmed by the state Senate.

Polles described the department’s employees as “capable, committed and talented.”

“The men and women of this department are often not appreciated for their tireless efforts, but they remain steadfast in their commitment to preserve Mississippi’s rich and historic conservation heritage for generations to come,” Polles said.

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The department operates state parks, wildlife management agencies, fisheries and lakes. It offers hunting and boating education, outreach programs through the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science and archery programs in schools.

The news release listed several changes that the department made with Polles as executive director, including starting point-of-sale systems for licenses, boat registrations and park facilities reservations. The department also established law enforcement teams within the department to help communities during natural disasters.