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Williams confirmed to lead US Fish and Wildlife Service

| February 22, 2022 7:00 AM

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Martha Williams, the former director of Montana's wildlife agency, has been confirmed to lead the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The U.S. Senate confirmed her nomination Thursday night with a voice vote.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is part of the Department of Interior, is responsible for protecting species listed under the Endangered Species Act. The service also oversees national conservation efforts — including fisheries, hatcheries, migratory birds, ecological services and federal wildlife refuges.

Williams has essentially served as acting director of the wildlife agency since Jan. 20, 2021, when she was named principal deputy director.

In an interview with the Helena Independent Record after her appointment as deputy, Williams identified climate change as the most challenging issue she expects to face. She also said that that many conservation issues are interwoven with other societal issues.

Williams worked as an attorney for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks from 1998 to 2011 and was involved with the state's effort to take over management of wolves from federal authorities.

She spent two years as a solicitor at the Department of Interior before returning to teach at the University of Montana law school.

Williams led Montana's wildlife agency from 2017 through early 2021.