Wildlife agency prepares for Alaska employee loss

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Alaska is bracing for an exodus of expertise.

Forty to 50 employees – just under 10 percent of the workforce – are expected to retire Dec. 31 to take advantage of a window to boost retirement pay.

Agency spokesman Bruce Woods says hundreds of years of experience will be lost with the departures.

The agency manages 16 wildlife refuges in the state. The refuges together total nearly 120,000 square miles, an area about the size of New Mexico.

Woods says there is one upside.

Departing employees are at relatively high pay grade levels and their replacements will come in at lower levels. Woods says the agency will see cost savings.