Ducks, videos, parties part of scathing state audit of Fish & Wildlife

Ducks, videos, parties part of scathing state audit of Fish & Wildlife
The audit by Mike Harmon began after he got a letter from the Secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, Don Parkinson.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Pizzas, alcohol for a party and even ducks from Canada are among things that Kentucky taxpayers paid for without knowing.

A critical audit reveals thousands of public dollars were mismanaged by one of the largest agencies in the state, Kentucky’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

The audit by Mike Harmon began after he got a letter from the Secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, Don Parkinson.

The results were released Tuesday. The audit examined several years of financial activity.

“Our exam finds many past and current problems at KDFWR,” Harmon wrote. “A change in culture is needed.”

Eleven specific problems were identified in the audit, including mismanagement of funds and using a foundation as a loophole. Fish and Wildlife also is accused of not even checking on what it was spending money on, like ducks from Canada. The report also mentioned a marketing company which received thousands of dollars without the department determining what taxpayers got in return.

That marketing company is identified as Wired Outdoors, a hunting show on Youtube and over-the-top platforms such as Roku and Amazon Fire.

The show is not from Kentucky, but rather, based in Pennsylvania. It features hunting trips all over the country, including kill shots of bears, elk, coyotes and bobcats.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is a sponsor of the show and paid $70,000 over a three-year period. According to the audit, the department never determined what taxpayers were getting in return.

Regarding the ducks, the report stated that Fish and Wildlife spent $550,000 since 2008 for breeding ground in Canada. But, the audit found that only 10 percent of the ducks even made it to Kentucky.

The report also noted that public dollars were used for banquets, including a $750 alcohol purchase, which the report identified as a violation of law. Another alleged violation included paying for the salary of an educational foundation’s director.

The audit found that more than $20,000 was spent on pre-paid debit cards for volunteers. Some of the money used to buy the cards, the report stated, came from federal tax dollars.

It also stated the department received more than $70 million in funding. The report states that in 2016, 57 percent of Fish & Wildlife’s funds came from license sales for fishing, hunting and boating registrations. Another 35 percent came from federal tax dollars through grants.

The auditor noted that the general tax fund is not used to fund the department, but was concerned because millions of dollars do come from taxpayers.

“But given that a large portion of their funding comes from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, along with federal grants, which are funded by taxpayers, our exam details the greater need for KDFWR to act in a responsible and transparent fashion in following state laws and regulations when it comes to the use of these dollars,” Harmon said.

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