Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Commissioner Gregory K. Johnson announced today the appointments of Charles O. Bush Jr., and Dr. Karen A. Waldrop to deputy commissioner positions at the department. Both will begin their new duties Sept. 1.
Waldrop is the current director of the department’s Division of Wildlife. Bush currently serves as deputy commissioner of the Finance Cabinet’s Department of Facilities and Support Services.
“I am thrilled to have two such knowledgeable & dedicated professionals as Charles and Karen to serve as deputy commissioners,” said Johnson. “Both are extremely familiar with Kentucky, highly respected in their fields, and avid hunters and anglers.” Bush and Waldrop already know the department well.
Bush is returning to the department. A licensed civil engineer, he served 15 years at the department (1994-2008) as the director of Engineering Division before joining the Finance Cabinet in 2009. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Kentucky in 1986 and then worked more than seven years with the Division of Abandoned Mine Lands in the Natural Resources Cabinet.
“I’m excited and looking forward to the challenge,” said Bush. “It feels like I’m coming home.”
Waldrop, the Wildlife Division director since 2007, began her association with the department in 1999 working with the elk restoration project in southeast Kentucky. She became the lead researcher in a Clemson University Kentucky elk restoration study in 2000 and earned her doctorate in wildlife biology. That grew into a 2004 post-doctoral elk study with the University of Kentucky, and she joined the department as its Research Program Coordinator in 2005.
During her term as Wildlife Division director, the department expanded elk hunting opportunities, established bear and sandhill crane hunting seasons, and added more than 140,000 acres of land for public hunting. Kentucky became the only state agency to win the Quality Deer Management Association’s “Agency of the Year” recognition for a second time, and the nation’s top destination for white-tailed deer hunting according to two major national outdoor magazines.
“This agency is made up of incredibly talented professionals dedicated to making Kentucky’s fish and wildlife resources the best anywhere,” said Waldrop. “I’m looking forward to helping them continue their great work, because great resources also mean great experiences in the field for our hunters and anglers.”
Bush, a devoted deer hunter, says he’s claimed a few successes over turkeys as well, but admits they continue to teach him most of the lessons. He lives in Frankfort with his wife, Sandra, and is busy introducing his two new sons-in-law to shooting and hunting.
Waldrop credits her parents for instilling her sound conservation and management values. She enjoys squirrel hunting with her treeing feist dog, bass and crappie fishing, turkey hunting and archery hunting for elk and deer.
She resides in Frankfort with her husband, Glenn, and stepson Zachary.