ST. PAUL (AP) -- After a months-long search for someone to lead one of the largest divisions in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the man chosen for the job turned it down.
''I'm sure this has taken a number of people by surprise,'' Lee Pfannmuller, the other finalist for the job, said Monday.
She will act as temporary chief of the DNR's Fish and Wildlife division until a permanent director is selected. The agency will start over in its search to head the division, but it was unclear how long that would take, said spokesman Dennis Stauffer.
Kevin Delaney, an Alaska wildlife official, declined the job, calling it a difficult decision that came down to money. He has been director of the Division of Sport Fish for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game since 1995.
''They couldn't pay me ... more than what I get to run the fisheries program here,'' he told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. ''The Minnesota job was a step up in terms of responsibility, and it needed to be a step up financially.''
The position pays between $60,183 and $85,714. Delaney was offered a salary near the maximum, according to a DNR official.
Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bob Lessard said he was disappointed that Delaney had declined the job.
''He understood the job,'' said Lessard, DFL-International Falls. ''He had the experience. He impressed me.''
Lessard added that it was ''absolutely crucial'' that whoever is appointed to be the director of the division has a passion for hunting and fishing.
''The only way you can understand what the problems are is to be someone who loves to hunt and fish,'' he said.
Delaney was born in Red Wing and grew up in White Bear Lake and St. Cloud. He lives with his wife on the edge of a half-million-acre wilderness area near Anchorage. He hunts, fishes and snowmobiles.
The DNR's biggest issue expected to come before the Legislature this year is a proposal to raise hunting and fishing license fees. Not having a director could make getting funding problems resolved more difficult, Lessard said.
Commissioner Allen Garber said at a fishing roundtable on Saturday that salary and a relocation allowance were the details still being worked out.
''If the salary was a problem and they've got a cap on it, we'd better damn well change the cap,'' Lessard said. ''That's the most visible position in the DNR, outside the commissioner.''
Stauffer said the agency hadn't decided how to proceed.
''We're not ruling anything in or out at this point,'' he said. ''This is a position filled at the discretion of the commissioner. There are no deadlines on this.''
Pfannmuller, director of the ecological services division of Fish and Wildlife, said she didn't know if she would reapply for the position.
''I'm going to have to sort some things out,'' she said.
House Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Dennis Ozment, R-Rosemount, said the move would have been a step down for Delaney.
''It's quite a step to be the dog in one state and just be the tail in another,'' Ozment said.
He said Pfannmuller would do a good job as permanent director, although she didn't have established connections within the fish and wildlife community.
''She was a person that would step into that job and start running,'' Ozment said.
Whoever is selected for the position will replace Roger Holmes, who retired Jan. 6 after 41 years with the DNR. The director is in charge of a department with a $55 million budget that oversees policies and management in the fisheries, wildlife and ecological services.
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