After almost 20 years as director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), Duane Shroufe has announced his retirement effective at the end of March 2008.

Shroufe is the second-longest-tenured state wildlife director in the United States.

During Shroufe’s tenure at the AZGFD helm, the agency was routinely recognized as one of the top and most innovative wildlife agencies in the nation. A major challenge was the burgeoning growth of Arizona’s population and quality growth for the department. Under Shroufe’s tenure, the agency grew from 230 personnel to 650 while the budget increased from $20 million to $80 million.

Shroufe has been a leader on the national and international wildlife scene. He served two terms as the president of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. He recently served as chairman of the North American Wetlands Conservation Council.

Shroufe chaired many committees for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and played an instrumental role for many programs, such as Partners in Flight.

Throughout the years, Shroufe has received a host of national and even international wildlife awards. This past spring, he received the 2006 Distinguished Service Award from the Wildlife Management Institute. Last year, Shroufe received the International Canvasback Award from the North American Waterfowl Management Plan Committee.

Shroufe’s 23 years with the department caps a 40-year career in wildlife management. The Michigan-born Shroufe began his career with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources before coming to the Arizona Game and Fish Department in 1984 as an assistant director. He was appointed as the department’s director in 1989.

Highlights of Shroufe’s accomplishments include:

-Establishment of the state-based Heritage Fund in 1990 to support projects to enhance and protect wildlife and habitats;

-Critical leadership in the development and evolution of the Teaming with Wildlife Initiative on the national scene;

-Advancement of state-based collaborative initiatives to aid in the recovery of endangered species;

-Creation of partnerships with wildlife concerns in Mexico, including development of the first international and all-bird joint venture;

-Consistent leadership to improve customer service and wildlife conservation policies, programs, and practices at the agency level;

-Leading a successful effort to create a new department headquarters complex on the commissioned-owned grounds of the Ben Avery Shooting Facility on the northern outskirts of Phoenix, Ariz.;

-Implementation of an agency-wide management approach that follows the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program model to enhance productivity, increase efficiency, and improve customer service.

The Game and Fish Commission immediately began a nationwide search for Shroufe’s replacement.

“We hope we will attract the very best candidate of the wildlife leadership community to lead our state. We intend to set the bar high to meet today’s wildlife and habitat challenges,” said Commission Chairman Mike Golightly, Flagstaff, Ariz.