Parnell defends not placing wildlife official on leave

Governor Sean Parnell on Thursday made his first public comment on the resignation of controversial state wildlife official Corey Rossi.

Parnell said he agreed with Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell’s decision to keep Rossi on the job, even after she learned that he was questioned as part of a criminal investigation.

“Each case is going to be different in who knew what, when, and all that. So, my view is that when a person is charged with a crime that directly relates to their job, they need to be removed. Anything short of that is dependent on a case by case basis,” Parnell said at a press availability in Juneau.

Rossi was charged last week with 12 misdemeanor counts related to an illegal black bear hunt that took place in June 2008. Prosecutors say he lied on state hunting reports to cover up who shot three of the four bears killed in the hunt.

Parnell and Commissioner Campbell say they knew that Rossi was to be interviewed, but did not know the nature of the investigation until after the charges became public.

Rossi was director of the state Division of Wildlife Conservation. His lack of qualifications and advocacy of controversial predator control policies made him a divisive figure within the Department of Fish and Game.

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