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Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Greg Sheehan is serving in the “newly created position” of “deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” and will “serve as acting head of the agency until a director is named and confirmed.” Sheehan is “primarily… responsible for protecting imperiled species and enforcing hunting and fishing regulations.” 

Greg Sheehan “grew up in Utah,” and went to Utah State University where he got his undergraduate degree in business administration and finance. After college, Sheehan “worked with the Air Force as a civilian” for six years where he “correct[ed] inefficiencies in cost and pricing between the Air Force and major Defense Department contractors.” Sheehan then served in “Utah’s wildlife division for more than two decades,” most recently serving as the director of Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources. Sheehan is also “a lifelong hunter, angler, and aspiring wildlife photographer.”

Sources: [Corbin Hiar, “Zinke picks Utah official to be FWS deputy director,” Energy & Environment, 06/05/17, “Utah official named acting head of US Fish and Wildlife,” Associated Press, 06/05/17, JaNae Francis, “Layton man new Utah DWR director,” Standard-Examiner, 11/25/12, and Department of the Interior, Press Release, 06/05/17]

Special Interests

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (Protecting Public Lands)

Sheehan is a "longtime member" of sportsmen's group the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. RMEF conserves land to protect elk ranges.

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Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports (Protecting Public Lands)

Sheehan is a board member of the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports, which promotes hunting and educates "the public on the contributions that hunters and shooters make towards wildlife conservation."

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Intermountain West Joint Venture (Protecting Public Lands)

Sheehan serves on the board the Intermountain West Joint Venture, a public-private partnership that conducts activities "in support of bird conservation goals."

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Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW) (Resource Development on Public Lands)

When Sheehan was Director of DWR, DWR accepted a $1 million check from SFW. Critics observed that it appeared "that SFW and not the DWR" was "in charge of wildlife in Utah." SFW is a sportsmen's group that has "ties to energy interests."

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Background Information

Previous Employers

U.S. Air Force

Utah Division of Wildlife Service

Additional Background on Employers of Note:

Greg Sheehan opposed the reintroduction of Mexican wolves into Utah when he was Director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR).

While he was Director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), Greg Sheehan opposed reintroduction of Mexican wolves, “one of the most critically endangered mammals on Earth,” into their historic range in Utah. Sheehan said that bringing Mexican wolves into Utah was “‘just not really a very sound approach to recovery planning on a highly endangered species'” because Utah was a “‘new region where they didn’t evolve in the first place.'” Wildlife advocates said that “refusing the Mexican wolf’s entry” in Utah was “taking a ‘selfish’ approach” and that there were only “a few swaths of public land large enough for management of a long-ranging species like wolves are left.”

[House Natural Resources Democrats, Press Release, 06/29/17, Brian Maffly, “Conservationists blast long-awaited recovery plan for Mexican wolves, which excludes Utah, Colorado from lobos’ range,” Salt Lake Tribune, 06/29/17, Morgan Jacobsen, “Wildlife Advocates Hold Rally in Utah to Save Mexican Gray Wolf,” KSL, 01/14/16, and “Conservationists howl for Mexican wolf protection in Utah,” Standard-Examiner, 01/14/16]

When Greg Sheehan was Director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, DWR was criticized for accepting a $1 million check from Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW) and for giving SFW preference over other groups as a permit distributor.  

Although on their website Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW) brags that they are “dedicated to the perpetuation of wildlife,” that that they are “passionate about hunting,” SFW has “ties to energy interests.” Founded by Don Peay, “one of former President George W. Bush’s top fundraisers,” SFW has defied “mainstream sportsmen groups by not opposing the Bush administration’s oil and gas policies on public lands.”

[“About SFW,” Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, accessed 08/10/17 and ” Matt Lee-Ashley, “Oil and Gas Industry Investments in the National Rifle Association and Safari Club International: Reshaping American Energy, Land, and Wildlife Policy,” Center for American Progress, 04/14″

In 2012, while Sheehan was Director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the Executive Board of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife “presented the Utah DWR Director, Greg Sheehan, and the Utah Wildlife Board a check for $1,071,284.58.” After the December 2012 donation, some observed that “money and political clout often give the impression that SFW and not the DWR is in charge of wildlife in Utah.”

[“SFW Donates $1 Million Dollars to the DWR,” Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife, 12/05/12, and and Tom Wharton, “Wharton: Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife about wrong kind of bucks,” Salt Lake Tribune, 03/21/13]

Also under Greg Sheehan’s leadership as Director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the DWR came “under fire” for a December 2015 decision when they “approved a wildlife conservation group, Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife, as a permit distributor for a hunting expo that [took] place in Salt Lake City every year.” DWR had the option to choose the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which pledged to donate “100 percent of the proceeds from the hunting tags, back to Utah Conservation Efforts,” as the permit distributor, but instead they chose SFW, even though SFW “only designated 30% of the tag proceeds to conservation efforts. The decision created a firestorm amongst Utah outdoorsmen” who “accus[ed] the DWR… of corruption, catering to special interests and accepting bribes from Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife.”

[Chris Miller, “Allegations of corruption surround Utah Hunting and Conservation Expo,” KUTV, 02/26/16] 

Current Activity

Since he began serving in the Trump administration, Greg Sheehan has supported efforts to reform the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Greg Sheehan, in June 2017, said that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sought “‘to improve implementation of the [Endangered Species Act],'” and the Trump “‘administration [was] committed to making the ESA work for the American people.'”

When asked about “five bills targeting portions” of the Endangered Species Act, Sheehan said that “‘in general the administration supports them.'”

In particular, Sheehan supported part of a bill “that would remove current 90-day and 12-month deadlines for making decisions on species listing decisions” and part of another bill “that would require the Fish and Wildlife Service to consider all data submitted by state, local and tribal governments.”

[Chris D’Angelo, “Fish And Wildlife Service Backs GOP-Led Bills To Chip Away At Endangered Species Act,” Huffington Post, 07/19/17, and Michael Doyle, “FWS backs contentious Republican reform package,” Greenwire, 07/19/17]

Other Information

Greg Sheehan belongs to several sportsmen’s and conservation groups, including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Intermountain West Joint Venture, and the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports.  

Sportsmen’s group the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation “counts Sheehan as a longtime member.” RMEF “permanently protects crucial elk winter and summer ranges, migration corridors, calving grounds and other vital areas, while focusing on securing and improving hunter access throughout elk country” and conserves land through “acquisitions, access agreements and easements, conservation easements, land and real estate donations, land exchanges and associated acres.”

[Corbin Hiar, “Zinke picks Utah official to be FWS deputy director,” Energy & Environment, 06/05/17, and “How We Conserve,” Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, accessed 08/10/17]

Greg Sheehan is on the management board of the “Intermountain West Joint Venture,” a “partnership is comprised of federal agencies, state fish and wildlife agencies, non-governmental organizations, tribes, universities, policymakers, corporations, foundations, and private landowners” that “conduct[s] activities in support of bird conservation goals developed by the partnership.”

[“Management Board,” Intermountain West Joint Venture, accessed 08/10/17, “Who We Are,” Intermountain West Joint Venture, accessed 08/10/17, and “What We Do,” Intermountain West Joint Venture, accessed 08/10/17]

Greg Sheehan is a Board Member of the “Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports.” The mission of the Council is the “promotion and growth of hunting and the shooting sports and the education of the public on the contributions that hunters and shooters make towards wildlife conservation.”

[Rich Landers, “Zinke taps Utah wildlife director to head U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” Spokesman-Review, 06/05/17, and “Council Mission and Values,” Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports, accessed 08/10/17]