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The times, they are a' changing for sure!

"WATERFORD, N.Y. ? Patricia Riexinger, the new director of New York State?s Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, stood in the falling snow here and peered through her binoculars, looking for bald eagles. Suddenly, a bird leapt from a tree and soared out of sight, and Ms. Riexinger, visibly excited, set off in pursuit, traversing streams and sloshing across muddy slopes.

A wildlife biologist who has spent more than 30 years in the state?s Department of Environmental Conservation, Ms. Riexinger was appointed last fall to lead the agency?s largest division. She is the first woman to preside over the agency, which, with a staff of 425, regulates all fishing and hunting in the state....
Environmental advocates have greeted Ms. Riexinger?s appointment with enthusiasm.

?More than anyone else in the division, she really advocated for the full scope of wildlife in the state, not just game,? said David VanLuven, director of the Hudson River Estuary Landscape for the Nature Conservancy?s eastern New York chapter, who worked closely with Ms. Riexinger for almost five years when he oversaw the state?s Natural Heritage Program. (The agency contracts with the Nature Conservancy to manage certain programs.)

But Ms. Riexinger?s ascension also caused a frisson of anxiety among some hunting enthusiasts, who were concerned not only that she was a woman but that her background was rooted more in conservation than in hunting.

Howard Cushing, past president of the New York State Conservation Council, a membership organization that represents hunters, anglers and trappers, said: ?There were some people who attacked her who are not credible. What matters with the people who manage our resources is that they listen to us and address problems, and she?s doing that. I think it?s only fair that people give her a chance.?

Ms. Riexinger, who recently completed a master?s degree in biodiversity, conservation and policy from the State University at Albany, has sought to instill an enthusiasm for nature in her personal life. She was once the reptile and amphibian specialist in the agency?s Endangered Species Unit, and she used to tote a bucket of milk snakes into her children?s classrooms every June. As a Girl Scout leader, she gives the red-backed salamander ? the most common vertebrate of the Northeast forests ? star billing on campouts."
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