The chairman of the Kentucky Department of Fisheries & Wildlife Commission is under fire after being charged with obstructing legal hunting and the head of the KDFW law enforcement division has resigned amid an ethics investigation into his involvement.
Commission Chairman Jimmy Bevins of Georgetown was charged with obstructing legal hunting after putting out corn as illegal bait near his property and contacting KDFW officials to investigate. According to LEX18.com News, the situation arose because Bevins reportedly was upset in January 2016 that hunters were near his property on Elkhorn Creek.
According to court records, the controversy began last January when Bevins contacted Fish and Wildlife about people shooting guns and hunting ducks near his house.
A wildlife officer suspected Bevins knowingly put corn out to bait the property so no one else could hunt there, which is illegal.
Two other fish and wildlife employees face ethics charges for allegedly discouraging one of their own from pursuing a charge against Bevins because of his role with the department.
Colonel Rodney Coffey, who was director of the KDFWR Law Enforcement section but has resigned, and Capt. Richard Skaggs, who still is with KDFWR, were identified in a separate, more detailed Lexington Herald-Leader story about their involvement.
According to the Herald-Leader, Coffey resigned in mid-January after the state’s Executive Branch Ethics Commission began an investigation.
Bevins was appointed to the commission in 2016. His term ends in August 2020. Commission appointments are made for by the governor four-year terms.
According to the KDFWR website, Bevins has Life Memberships with the National Rifle Association, Safari Club International, Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society and National Sporting Clays Association. He also is a member of Ducks Unlimited and Quality Deer Management Association. He is the owner and president of Bevins Motor Company in Georgetown and has John Deere dealerships in Paris, Richmond and Mt. Sterling.
The commission Bevins chairs hears public input about KDFWR policies, regulations and laws, and is an advisory board to the department and state legislature about such matters.
Wildlife Officers Vote ‘No Confidence’ in Agency Commissioner
In a separate situation that points to deeper issues with the KDFWR, Bevins’ situation was included as part of a “no confidence” vote by the Kentucky Conservation Officers Association about the state agency’s commissioner.
Rodney Milburn, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 100 and KCOA, said the vote was approved at the association’s board of directors meeting in February. It was specific to KDFWR commissioner, Greg Johnson, who is in charge of the state agency. Johnson is the eighth commissioner in the agency’s 70-year history.
The (KCOA) letter stated that the KCOA has declared that they have no confidence in Commissioner Gregory Johnson’s ability to guide the agency ethically and with resolve to provide employees with fair and impartial treatment. They have asked commissioners to remove Gregory Johnson immediately as Commissioner of the Department.
Also among complaints in the officers’ association resoluation are those about inadequate compensation and promotion opportunities for wildlife officers, and failing to be added to the agenda at commission meetings.