Senate ag leaders issue statement on passing of Department of Fish and Wildlife employee

Earlier this week the state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that a member of their team tragically passed away in the performance of her duties. After failing to check back with her team on the night of Jan. 23, Mary Valentine was reported missing the next morning to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Valentine was a scientist with DFW and had been working on a fish trap on the Duckabush River where her body was found.

Chair of the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee, Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D- Lake Sutherland, and the ranking Republican, Sen. Ron Muzzall, R-Oak Harbor, issued the following statement.

“We are saddened by the tragic loss of Ms. Valentine and our hearts go out to her family and colleagues at DFW. Her passion for helping preserve and protect our environment won’t be forgotten. We know that WDFW has worked to improve their safety program along with funding from the Governor’s budget, but we believe we need to go further.

“WDFW needs to have safety people on the ground ensuring all procedures are followed, especially when dangerous activities are being conducted. While we don’t know at this time if it would have made a difference for Ms. Valentine, the days of WDFW employees entering rivers by themselves in a boat without a safety plan in place need to end. The safety of our public employees is paramount.”