New Wyoming Game And Fish Director Announced On Friday, First Woman In Position

Gov. Mark Gordon announced Friday that Angi Bruce will be the new director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, She’s the first woman to head the agency and inherits a department that is financially stable but has plenty of challenges.

Mark Heinz

July 05, 20244 min read

Angi Bruce, left, and Brian Nesvik.
Angi Bruce, left, and Brian Nesvik. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

As the first woman to direct the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Angi Bruce said she’ll make wildlife habitat a priority when she takes the helm in September.

A looming concern for Wyoming wildlife is “loss of habitat, both quality and quantity,” Bruce told Cowboy State Daily on Friday afternoon shortly after Gov. Mark Gordon announced her appointment.

“We’re seeing these effects on sage grouse, mule deer and other species,” Bruce said.

She said she’s looking forward to working with landowners, non-governmental conservation groups and others to continue Game and Fish habitat preservation and restoration projects across Wyoming.

Gordon picked Bruce from three internal finalists to replace Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik, who plans to retire in September.

The other finalists were Rick King, chief of the department’s Wildlife Division, and Craig Smith, deputy chief of the Wildlife Division.

Bruce is now the agency’s deputy director of external affairs.

Best And Worst Of Times

She’ll take over as director during a time that is both exciting and challenging for Game and Fish.

On one hand, the agency is about as financially stable as it’s ever been. Wyoming continues to be a premier destination for out-of-state hunters. They’re willing to pay big fees for nonresident hunting licenses, which generates a large portion of Game and Fish’s revenue.

On the other hand, Game and Fish has been harshly criticized from people and wildlife advocates from around the globe for what some claim was light punishment for a Daniel man who reportedly captured, tortured and killed a wolf in February.

According to court records, Cody Roberts, 42, forfeited a $250 bond for a Game and Fish citation for illegal possession of a live, warm-blooded animal. But many have clamored for much stiffer penalties for the wolf’s cruel treatment.

There’s also ongoing controversy over whether grizzly bears should be delisted from federal endangered species protection and hunted in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

There also are squabbles over hunter access, even as many of Wyoming’s elk herds have ballooned to far above their objective population.

Hunters claim that landowners won’t give them enough access to shoot more of the elk, while landowners say they don’t want to be pressured into just throwing their gates wide open.

Regarding the elk quandary, Bruce said she’s familiar with that sort of situation. She previously worked in wildlife management in Iowa and saw it happen there with whitetail deer.

Some plots of land became “essentially refuges” for the exploding deer population and hunters couldn’t get to them, she said.

Like whitetail, elk “are a species that can become very adaptable to human disturbances to the environment,” she said.

“They’re two very different species, but the issues are similar,” she said.

Regarding the controversies, Bruce said she’s confident that Game and Fish can continue to take a balanced approach and stay on course with its mission to conserve wildlife and serve the public.

“One thing I’ve noticed is that we never shy away from those difficult issues,” she said.

First Woman Director

Bruce has been in her current position with Game and Fish since 2019, and worked with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for 17 years before that.

She said it’s meaningful to be selected as the first woman to lead Wyoming Game and Fish.

“I’m thrilled to represent the first female director for the department. That’s exciting. This is a very male-dominated field, it always has has been,” she said.

However, she added that her appointment in no way detracts from the excellent record of the men who previously directed Game and Fish and got the agency to where it is today.

Bruce added that she’s “honored” to set an example and be an inspiration for women and girls who are interested in careers in natural resource and wildlife management.

The Right One For The Job

Selecting from the three finalists was challenging, Gordon said in a statement released by his office.

“The Game and Fish Commission forwarded three exceptionally well-qualified candidates reflecting Wyoming’s commitment to wildlife and our natural resource heritage,” Gordon said.

“In her role as deputy director, Angi has demonstrated the department’s dedication to protecting our state’s leadership role in science and policy on wildlife issues large and small,” he added.

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter