Ed Boggess, Department of Natural Resource fish and wildlife division director, will retire in February, ending a 30-plus-year career with the agency during which he held nearly every important wildlife management position.
Boggess’ departure will follow that of DNR enforcement chief Ken Soring, whose recent retirement also leaves that key position open.
As a farm kid in southwestern Iowa, Boggess tended his family’s pigs, cows and chickens, while also putting up hay and helping with corn and soybean planting and harvesting.
He also hunted the area’s pheasants and quail, which were plentiful at the time, and trapped.
“I probably would have been an engineer,” he said. “But once I learned in high school a person could have a career in fish and wildlife, I knew that’s what I would do.”
Boggess holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Iowa State University.
Before joining the DNR, he worked in Kansas for that state’s wildlife extension program. He also was an Iowa Conservation Commission research assistant before becoming the Minnesota DNR’s furbearer specialist.
“Fur prices were high when I came here, and there were a lot of trapping issues to work on,” he said.
Boggess took the Minnesota job, he said, because he “always had a hankering to get up this way.”
Rising through the ranks, Boggess served as wildlife program manager, chief of fish and wildlife policy, deputy director of the fish and wildlife division and, since 2011, that division’s director.
Boggess was particularly expert at coolly dealing with legislators and their frequently half-baked fish and wildlife management ideas.
A bow hunter, Boggess for many years traveled to Colorado in the fall to hunt elk. He said he has no specific plans for retirement.
“I have a lot of interests in hunting, fishing and gardening,” he said. “I’m also interested in wildlife photography and fly fishing for trout, and I’d like to learn more about them.”
Boggess has two grandchildren, ages 8 and 4, and will spend more time with them in retirement, he said.
Soring, meanwhile, became a DNR conservation officer in Wadena in 1984, following five years with the agency in other positions.
He has been enforcement chief since 2013 and, previously for 12 years, was regional enforcement supervisor in Grand Rapids.
As chief, Soring spearheaded a new program intended to attract conservation officer candidates with demonstrable passion for the state’s woods, waters and fields: “The core values that are required to become a successful conservation officer are, first and foremost, a passion for the resource. Also important are accessibility and approachability — being able to work with the public.”
Said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr: “Both [Boggess and Soring] have taken their passion for natural resources and made it a lifelong commitment to conservation.”
Boggess, said Landwehr, “is recognized as one of the best fish and wildlife directors in the nation, and leaves big shoes to fill,” while Soring “is a perfect model of the ideal conservation officer — smart, savvy, friendly, knows the clientele, and always looking to impress on young people the importance of doing the right thing.”