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January 22, 2022

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The Comeuppance of a Gopher Choker – Corey Rossi Busted for Illegal Bear Hunting

Corey Rossi, director of the Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation, who has just resigned in scandal after being snared (as it were) engaging in the illegal hunting of bears.

Mudflatters may remember past coverage of Corey Rossi, referred to by others as “the gopher choker.” Rossi began his ignominious political career by being friends with Chuck and Sally Heath, parents of then-Governor Sarah Palin. And really, what else do you need?  In those days, being BFFs with the Palins was like being dealt a royal flush. Palin high school pal and former real estate agent Franci Havermeister was given the position of Alaska Agriculture Director for $95,000/year, after listing as one of her qualifications for the position her childhood “love of cows.”

Well, Rossi loved to kill stuff, so his career path seemed clear.

After Palin took office in 2007, Sally [Heath] lobbied her daughter to have Rossi named commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The commissioner oversees all wildlife and fisheries management in the state. Sally Heath, in an email to Palin, noted that almost everyone would object to Rossi as unqualified, but added those “are the very same people who said the same thing about you.”

‘Nuf said.

His previous wildlife management did not include things like a college degree, or much actual experience – unless you count his job killing geese and rats at the Anchorage International Airport. Or his job killing foxes and more rats on the Pribilof Islands. So really, he could just as easily have been the goose snuffer, the fox blocker, or the rat whacker.

Whatever you call him, he’s an exterminator at heart.

After urging from her parents, the governor pushed Rossi to the front of the line. But even Palin’s advocacy couldn’t make up for Rossi’s inexperience, and unsuitability for the job. So, it went to a gent named Denby Lloyd (who later resigned after being pulled over and arrested for a DUI by Juneau police, who determined his breath alcohol level was 0.143 percent. A person is presumed intoxicated at a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent. But let’s not get sidetracked.)

Rossi’s non-appointment would not squelch the nepotistic urges of our fair governor. Oh, no. She was made of more determined stuff than that. Instead, in January of 2009, an entirely new position was created just for Rossi, with the Orwellian title “Assistant Commissioner for Abundance Management.” No more airport geese, or runway rats for Rossi – it was time to take over predator control for the state of Alaska. And by control, he meant eradication.

Rossi’s shiny new six-figure job was quick to inspire outrage from the conservation community, and anyone who knew anything about biology, or game management.

Thirty-nine Alaskan biologists and former supervisors with a cumulative 800 years of experience with Alaska wildlife issues sent a letter expressing their dismay, and lack of confidence in Rossi’s appointment.

They stated that Rossi lacks the academic and professional experience for even an entry-level biologist position with the agency, because he has no college degree. Alas, all this genuine scientific concern and universal outrage had no effect.

The only ones who could stand him were the Palin family, current Governor Sean Parnell, and the “kill ’em and grill ’em” crowd who thought that Rossi was right on to promote the extermination of huge numbers of predators like wolves and bears. Using snares to trap and hold bears of all kinds (with cubs or not), shooting wolves (and potentially bears soon as well) from the air, and gassing litters of wolf pups in their dens, have all become part of Alaska’s formerly science-based wildlife management. All this eradication of predators is great they say, because in turn, it creates “abundance” in the numbers of moose that end up on tables and in freezers of hunters. Killing more means you get to kill more. See how that works? Kill for Abundance! It’s a win-win situation for a narrow group that does not include the tourism industry, nature photographers,wildlife viewers, or people who just happen to prefer their majestic Alaskan carnivores alive.

But Rossi’s reign of terror has come to an abrupt end, much to the delight of many who worked with him, and his legions of detractors in the environnmental community, the public at large, and perhaps others…

With the latest revelation, he seems to have made easy work of proving his critics’ point regarding his own unfitness to serve in the role he was given.

In this charging document, Rossi, 51, is charged with one count of permit hunt report violations, three counts of making false statements on black bear sealing certificates, two counts of unsworn falsification, one count of illegal possession of an illegally taken bear, and five counts of unlawful acts by an assistant big game guide.

In Alaska, this is serious stuff for any guide, nevermind the state Wildlife Conservation Director.  And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Turns out Alaska Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell knew a month ago about Rossi’s skulduggery, but kept him on in his job, where he earned another $9250 until the documents were filed last week.

When asked about Rossi’s hunting violations, she was kind enough to explain for those who might be confused:

“These are charges and a process is going forward.”

She pointed out that these violations had happened before he took the job  (no big deal) and sweetly thanked him for his service.

“He was a staunch defender of state management rights. That was something we very much appreciated,” said Campbell. “He was a believer in abundance-based management, and he did a lot to incorporate that into the management of the department.”

Aww. He was a defender. A staunch defender. And a believer. He did a lot. And he was appreciated. Doesn’t that make you all sniffly and misty-eyed, and gripped by nausea?

Despite a month’s heads up, Campbell says she hasn’t had time yet to come up with a process to fill Rossi’s position. She said she doubts that someone from outside the state would really understand Alaska’s issues.

Folks say there’s a pretty talented termite wrangler in Ketchikan who just may be looking for work.

 

 

 

Comments

comments

Comments
58 Responses to “The Comeuppance of a Gopher Choker – Corey Rossi Busted for Illegal Bear Hunting”
  1. Doug Leen says:

    A Confederacy of Dunces.

  2. Molly says:

    I’m not from around these parts; could someone explain “gopher choker”? Or is it like choking the chicken and I could just go find interesting pictures on the Google? brb….

  3. AKblue says:

    Can someone explain why the right wing “Christians” are so greedy and blood-thirsty?

    • mike from iowa says:

      It is called compassionate conservatism.

    • juneaudream says:

      The group ..’mentality’..for such, simple-minde christians..is because they are..’single-minded’. The genetic..predisposition..of some..is to only have an intellectual/mental activity/emotive,,range..that is..a very..narrow ..bandwidth. It is not entirely..their fault. If you have one person ..like that..and then they find themselves ..brought up..in a similar group..they must..collect ammunition..so to speak, raise the rock circles around their..village..and grab every livin’, breathin’ stick/cobble/fire wood stack..to..’protect themselves..from..Other! Anything..Not Them..is a danger..to them. It is..that simple.

  4. Betsy says:

    I am not a fan of Rossi and glad to see him go. But on the point of Denby Lloyd: he worked his way up the ADF&G ladder and was a biologist. He had higher up positions under former administrations long before Sarah Palin in the Commercial Fisheries Division and was respected by biologists. Dumb move drinking and driving. He was certainly a politician, but also a trained scientist.

  5. MITCHELL MEYER says:

    As almost a life time Hunter and Fisher man, This is the stuff that pisses me off so much.
    Messer Rossi and the hard core Right Wing all there want is to take and take more. most people I know have a grate love of the Alaska outdoors and when it come to the wonder of all it has to give to all of us.
    We live in a world ware some people do not look to the further, there only look to the right Now.
    My hope is that Mr Rossi gets the Book thrown out him and His to Serve Time and one huge Fine$$$

    • hedgewytch says:

      I understand his violations are “misdemeanors”, however, this is way different than a common law misdemeanor, like throwing trash on the highway.

      Guides are held to a much higher standard. The judge will take into account whether the action was “knowing and intentional”. Each misdemeanor of a game violation can be punishable of up to $30,000 and a year in jail. He can also lose his hunting and guiding license for a number of years or forever, up to the discretion of the judge.

  6. Moose Pucky says:

    The Board of Game still voted today to shoot wolves from airplanes on the Kenai.

    This government belongs to all Alaskans. And Alaskans have had enough of these pathetic game “management” policies that are cruel and senseless.

    Occupy your legislature.

  7. fishingmamma says:

    Since the position has only been in existence since 2009, why fill it at all?

  8. mike from iowa says:

    So Messer Rossi wasn’t exactly up to speed on his job qualifications and wasn’t up to date with the rules and regulations of the profession he was engaged in. Sounds like being a friend of is all the qualifications you need for a rethuglican administration gravy train seat. Dumbass dubya’s whole admin. was full of these FODs who were directly opposed to the policies they were hired to watch over. Let us hope Rossi is only the first domino in the Parnell government to fall hard.

  9. I See Villages From My House says:

    Adorable little Cora, who’s own childhood ‘love of fish’ had competency and qualification questions on her own appointment, doubts that someone from outside the state would really understand Alaska’s issues.

    I say, what makes State’s Right’s people like her think that Sarah Palin could really understand running the whole country’s issues? She couldn’t even manage her own household.

  10. Diane says:

    So the guy killed the bears, lied about it and the state of Alaska gave him almost $10,000.00 more for a job well done?

    Tell me he gets a pension too.

  11. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

    Cora needs to go next – her lack of qualifications and leadership is a joke. My environs are full of ADF&G folks and I’ve yet to meet one who has anything at all positive to say about her. She’s trying to appease politicians with no backbone of her own, and there are so many people in the Dept that can run circles around her fish for profit experience. Wildlife? Game Management? She’s clueless. I’m quite sure that she was put there as a pawn easily shuffled around the board. To call her a deer in the headlights is an insult to both headlights and deer.

    If biologists had somewhere else to go en masse, they would. It is heart breaking to see the demoralization of staff who care so much about their chosen profession, and so little (if at all) of politics. Thanks SP2 – chalk one up to the Alaskan resource plunderers. When your house is cleaned, and it will be, a lot of rotten goo is going to be coming out of the woodwork.

    There is no doubt that this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg with Rossi. He has no shame, only hubris & a greedy soul. He lies as easily as Sarah Palin ever has.

  12. zyggy says:

    Wasn’t Miss Quttiypants talking smack about cronyism last week? She so forgetful nowadays, forgetting she is jut as bad as all the other politicians.

    • Valley_Independent says:

      She’s always claiming the high ground in cases where she personally took the low road.

      I keep wishing we could have Scotty beam her somewhere and then delete the coordinates from the Enterprise.

  13. ValleyIndependent says:

    To be fair to Ms. Campbell, there’s a big difference between knowing there’s an investigation in progress and knowing the person being investigated is guilty. Theoretically, at least, our justice system works on the “innocent until proven guilty” premise. Any efforts to find his replacement before knowing he was guilty of a crime would have been premature.

    That said, she now has the opportunity to hire someone with appropriate qualifications. I hope she takes the time to find and properly vet a good one.

    Is anyone keeping tabs on the fate of all the cronies Palin hired? I’d be curious to know how many are still there.

    • Moose Pucky says:

      I suspect she’ll do what she’s told.

    • fishingmamma says:

      It would have been appropriate to place him on administrative leave as soon as the investigation was known to the commissioner, until the investigation was completed. But then, we are talking about THIS administration, and appropriateness (and ethics) is defined situationally.

  14. I hope this means that Cora will soon join Corey on the way out the door. It doesn’t sound like she is any better at doing her job than he has been.

  15. lilli says:

    Wonder if ole Chuck Heath was his Science/Biology teacher in school. Doesn’t Rossi live in Wasilla or Palmer?

  16. zyggy says:

    Missy Quittypants didnt do her vettin’ on this guy. What a shame. =) What took so long for all this to surface?

    • jwa says:

      I think vetting means to look and discover if the person is qualified or appropriate for the job.

      For instance, McCain didn’t bother to check Palin out – that was a lack of vetting (although he should have known on the face of her experience that she wasn’t qualified).

      Scarah KNEW this guy wasn’t qualified and still hired him anyway because Mommy asked her to. That’s not a lack of vetting. That’s just corrupt crony politics. But then, we aren’t surprised about that either.

    • lilli says:

      Miss Quittypants must have missed a payment to someone..hehe

  17. hedgewytch says:

    As Ice Girl pointed out, one the first principles of wildlife management you learn when in the process of obtaining a college degree in this subject is that: Predators DO NOT regulate prey, prey regulates predators.

    Most predator/prey relationships are cyclic. High prey years will result in high predators, prey crashes, so follow the predators. A perfect example of this is lynx/snow shoe hare populations. When talking about canines, wolves in particular, it has been shown the more that species is killed off, the larger the litter sizes, therefore creating even more predators in the area.

    The only time I advocate for predator “control” (done with time-tested legal and ethical hunting and trapping methodologies) is 1) when you have what is called a “predator pit” – that is the prey numbers are so low in a particular area that the pressure of the predators will cause the prey population to completely crash, or depress them so much that they can never build up the population, or 2) when you are specifically wanting to limit predators that have become overpopulated and dangerous, i.e. wolves coming into the village. These are basic wildlife management concepts you learn in a 101 class.

    Besides the fact that Rossi has absolutely no understanding of population ecology and basic wildlife management principles, the appointing of a department head when he couldn’t even qualify for an entry level position goes beyond insulting and becomes an egregious misuse of political power and threatens our Alaska State Constitutional mandate (that the governor is sworn to uphold) to see that the resources of this state (including wildlife) are utilized in the best manner for the common good of the residents of the state.

    And btw, I hold degrees in wildlife management and zoology.

    • Thanks for the thorough explanation. Too bad Rossi didn’t understand any of that – and probably never bothered to try to find it out.

    • UgaVic says:

      The case of ….
      or 2) when you are specifically wanting to limit predators that have become overpopulated and dangerous, i.e. wolves coming into the village. These are basic wildlife management concepts you learn in a 101 class.

      ….is what we are dealing with on the Alaska Peninsula (that skinny part of land that leads to the Aleutian Islands) in regards to our Brown bears. Although many like to whine about our moose population being out of balance …the real need is safey (of villagers) and health (of the bears) of the wildlife. We have so many bears that we are seeing real evidence of starvation; undersized animals, coming into villages even when plenty of fish, not staying denned in the winter, etc.

      As is the case with wolves there will be no attention paid to the issue until we have a death, like with the teacher killed by the wolves not far from here.

      A couple of humane methods, extending hunting season, letting locals take out problem bears without recovery of the carcus, and all have been rejected. Let’s just wait until a child or elder are killed then we can come in blazing with traps, poison, air hunting, etc!!!

      We are a sad example of a state, given our reputation throughout the world, on how we ‘manage’ our wildlife…SAD!!

      • Mo says:

        Yeah, heavens forbid that government work with local populations to come up with an optimal solution for a local problem. Get out the Procrustean Bed, always. And be sure to put political favorites in charge, not those actually competent in the knowledge and skills required. That biz about our Board of Game being manipulated by wealthy white non-resident hunters is the icing on the pile o’ moose pellets.

        Abysmal local game management coordination, coastal management axed… yet more reasons why voting Republican in Alaska is just as immoral as it is anywhere else.

  18. Millie says:

    Corruption in the State of Alaska? Oh no! You must be kidding! Sarah Palin inept? Oh no!!! We are NOT kidding!

  19. slipstream says:

    Here’s the soundtrack for the bears in the woods: “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.”

    1932. When Mike was but a wee lad.

    • beth. says:

      Heard that song every Saturday morning on AFN in TYO, Japan. It introduced a program for kids — the name of which, is going to be bugging me until I can remember it! Such warm-fuzzies, that song evokes…thanks, slip, for the rememberance smile. beth.

    • beaglemom says:

      That was my absolutely favorite song when I was little, over 60 years ago! In fact, I still love the song.

    • mike from iowa says:

      I am skeered to death of bruins and now I won’t be able to go outside ever again. Thanks Slip.

      • slipstream says:

        Mike, when you get yourself mended up, you should drop by slipstream’s house. Occasionally a bruin strolls through the yard. I’ve had evidence (if you know what I mean) of a brown bear checking out the grill on my back deck.

        As long as I can run faster than you can, I should be okay.

        BTW, sunshine has returned to slipstream’s house. Sunrise today 1:11 in the afternoon, sunset 4:07, for two hours and 56 minutes of glorious sunshine. And two degrees above zero.

  20. Dave B says:

    This may just be the proverbial ‘tip of the iceberg’ for Rossi…

    “there is probably going to be more hanging over Rossi than a dozen misdemeanors”.

    More info at; http://progressivealaska.blogspot.com/2012/01/reading-between-lines-in-corey-rossi.html

    • zyggy says:

      maybe he’ll get a few bear hugs while in prison.

      • Dia says:

        Maybe Schaeffer Cox can be his husband – sounds like he needs the feel of Cox’ hands on his neck.

        If Cory Campbell had any yarbies, she’d eliminate that position, “assistant commissioner of abundance manager.”

  21. Ice Gal says:

    Not using science is just pathetic. Aldo Leopold knew it was wrong to kill predators to pump up game populations, why do we not get that here?

  22. WakeUpAmerica says:

    Do you know if Corey Rossi is related to Dino Rossi, the Washington politician?

    • lilli says:

      I’m not sure but Corey did move from Eastern Washington in the early 70’s. So his family must have moved when he was10-15 yrs old.
      I didn’t realize that Dino Rossi’s mother was 1/2 Alaskan native..apparently she left her husband in Alaska with her kids and moved to Seattle then remarries and had Dino…the things you find out when you do a little digging. I couldn’t find out what her first husband’s name was.

  23. KateinCanada says:

    I hope he has nothing to go back to.
    What is the source of the absolutely wonderful Dancing Bears picture? I want a print!

    Is it still snowing?

  24. Mo says:

    This is just a great piece of writing, covering all the juicy details with relish and wit [sounds like I’m describing a hot dog with everything…maybe I should eat breakfast?]

  25. lisa says:

    Let the door hit him in the ass on the way out. And, Cora … her slow response to this incident is further indication the job is too much for her. It sounds like she was awaiting direction from her handlers as to the proper way to deal with Rossi. Big mistake.

  26. tallimat says:

    Some caring soul should tell dear little Cora, that the state she works for, does have a process in place to replace the guy.

    Just in case there isn’t a caring soul out there to educate Cora, I’ve prepared a little note that might be right up her code of clueless professional work ethics:

    Dear Sally Heath,
    Your friend Corey isn’t working out with his state job.
    Since you seem to be a knowledgeable crock-pot of information, could I employ your skills and get some info (asap) how to replace Corey?

    Sincerely
    Cora Campbell

    • Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

      Dearest Cora,

      I’m so glad my amazing daughter’s patty cake successor put you where you are today! You are the shining light of bulls being drug around by horns, and we sure do approve of that since free thinking is for the dirty liberals.

      Now that you mention it, and after shoving it down the throats of the entire family like we did way back when when my amazing daughter was chosen to anoint herself with the God’s Only Party’s blessing, I think the best idea would be to put my fearless husband in that position. I could do my usual lying in the background about how ethical he is, just like I did with Corri! But this time, we’ll make sure that Chuckie Dear hides his baited bear killings behind helicopters with blacked out windows. Hunters will be sworn to secrecy by telling them they will be dropped on the Arctic ice with hungry polar bears while depriving them of ammo if they breathe a word.

      Chuckie would be so good here because he, also too, knows how to fake a real guide’s name on permits but he does it with disappearing ink. How do you my daughter learned to be so devious and clever? It would never come back to him like with that lameass Corri – talk about spending his life’s savings on bribe money to get the job and then blowing it!

      However Chuckie and I have been enjoying that blood money a lot. I have some new clothes to match Sarah dear’s, and he bought a whole bunch of torture devices certified to be from the Spanish Inquisition. Talk about an investment! We are also thinking of doing a corporate raid on Jessica Beehive’s Wasilla salon because our granddaughters don’t know how to read or spell. They sure can do hair, though! They do Sarah’s all the time, especially before her Fox News appearances in the home studio. We get compliments daily.

      In closing dear, I’d like to commend you for being so easy to push around. It’s so refreshing – not like those lameass Legislators in horrible Juneau where crime runs rampant. I don’t know how you can live there, dear – they just despise my lovely daughter there and we can’t figure out how they discovered they were being ripped off and abused by our adorable family. I even heard that Todd’s advances to selected Juneauites were refusiated – how dare they! I mean, have you SEEN Todd?

      Keep up the good work, dear, by not really doing any work. Hang in there – if you hire Chuckie I promise your world will get brighter. Happy slaughtering – we’re getting there! The black bear & wolf counts are dropping daily – woohoo! Moose chili anyone?

      Love,

      Sally

      • Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

        Oh dear, I must make something clear that maybe wasn’t to someone as inexperienced as yourself. I’m so glad that we are annihilating the wolf population so we get more moose. But I don’t think it’s a good way to spend our money (Alaska’s money – woohoo!) on this kind of predator control where there are no moose – you know? We can use it for other things, like per diem for Chuckie when he has that job.

        Anyway there is a side benefit to this “funds off” management. The other animals get hungry and they keep small villages terrified and kept in their villages like so many Indians on a Reservation. If there are moose there, go get ’em! Fire up the choppers, dear!

        Love

        Sally

  27. Moose Pucky says:

    Hooray! say the critters.

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