The Arizona Game and Fish Commission announced it has hired Larry Voyles as the new director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, effective when current director Duane Shroufe retires in March. Voyles has been with Game and Fish for nearly 35 years and is currently supervisor for the department’s Yuma region, which handles field operations in southwestern Arizona.

“We’re thrilled to hire someone with Larry’s depth of experience and accomplishments,” said Commission Chairman Bill McLean. “He brings more than three decades of experience in wildlife management to the director’s position, as well as the respect of colleagues and the public.” Voyles joined the department in 1974 as a wildlife manager (game ranger), serving over the next 10 years in the Wellton, Wickenburg and Prescott districts. He subsequently served as the wildlife enforcement program coordinator and as the department's training coordinator before being promoted to supervisor of the Yuma region in 1988.

“This is truly a great honor,” said Voyles. “The Arizona Game and Fish Department is recognized as one of the world’s leading wildlife management agencies, and I look forward to continuing our tradition of innovation and dedication to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future.”

Voyles was one of two finalists considered by the Game and Fish Commission. The commission received more than 30 applications after conducting a nationwide search. Initial interviews were conducted with six people. “We were fortunate to have several qualified candidates to choose from,” said McLean. “The process has been arduous, but we’ve found what we’re looking for — someone with a proven record of strong management skills and an in-depth understanding of Arizona’s natural resource issues.”

Voyles, of Yuma, will lead an agency that employs more than 600 employees and is funded at more than $80 million per year from multiple funding sources, primarily the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, federal assistance from an excise tax on hunting and fishing gear, and several other sources such as the Heritage Fund (lottery proceeds), Wildlife Conservation Fund (tribal gaming revenue), watercraft licensing, and state wildlife grants.

He will work side-by-side with Shroufe until the latter’s retirement in order to ensure a smooth transition and will fill out the remainder of Shroufe’s original five-year contract through January 2009. In December, Shroufe requested, and was granted, commission approval to retire early this coming March after serving as director for nearly 20 years.

“You don’t just replace a Duane Shroufe,” said Voyles. “He led the agency through an amazing period of growth, quality improvement and accomplishment. He set the bar high, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to continue that legacy.”

Voyles holds a B.S. in wildlife biology from Arizona State University. The Arizona Game and Fish Department director is appointed by and reports to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. The director serves as the department’s chief administrative officer and is responsible for the general supervision and control of all activities, functions and employees of the department.