Game & Fish director says time to resign
Citing the stress and pressure of leading a large organization with a diverse, far-flung constituency, Jeff Crow of Bismarck announced Tuesday that he will resign as director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission effective Feb. 28.
Crow became director of the Game and Fish Commission on July 1, 2016. He succeeded former director Mike Knoedl, under whose administration Crow served as chief of law enforcement, deputy director and chief of staff. His salary is $132,728.96.
Steve Cook of Malvern, the Game and Fish Commission’s chairman, said Crow will not receive a severance package. Crow, who retired from the Arkansas State Police, cannot draw additional retirement benefits from the Game and Fish Commission.
Crow said there was no precipitating factor or conflict that prompted him to make such a sudden decision.
“Whenever an agency head retires abruptly, it makes people take notice,” Crow said. “There’s no allegation or scandal or anything like that. It’s just time.”
Despite serving in multiple high-level positions in the agency, Crow said he sometimes struggled with the complexities of managing multiple departments with diverse missions and responsibilities.
“Seeing what Mike [Knoedl] went through, I thought I had a good idea about the pressures that went along with that,” Crow said. “Everybody gets to a point in their career where they ask, ‘How effective are you going to be?’ It just may not be in the cards for you to go forward.”
Cook said the suddenness of Crow’s decision surprised commission members but he believes it was inevitable.
“I think it’s just the stress of what that position holds, the everyday ins and outs,” Cook said. “I get enough phone calls and emails, but I’m sure his pile of return phone calls, emails, voice mails and text messages is probably twice as much as I can fathom.”
Cook said the timing and manner of Crow’s resignation should dispel rumors that it was forced.
“Doing it the way he did, there won’t be any talk that we went into executive session and gave him a choice to resign or be dismissed,” Cook said. “It was a decision he came to on his own.”
Crow served 25 years in the Marine Corps. His wristwatch is set to military time. His terse, precise bearing and his autonomous management style sometimes caught the commission off guard.
Crow acknowledged that limiting his communications with the commission was a chronic shortcoming.
“One of the big challenges for the director is adequately informing the commission about what’s going on, and perhaps one of the biggest challenges I had was keeping that line of communication open,” Crow said. “No matter how much you do, it’s never going to be enough. Vice Chairman Ford Overton said you need to over-communicate. My advice to my successor would be to make that a priority.”
Crow said a major communications breakdown occurred in the summer when the agency introduced its new hunting and fishing license system. Hunters and anglers scorned and lampooned the new system on which licenses and game transportation tags are printed on 8½-by-11 printer paper.