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TWRA photo / Bobby Wilson is the TWRA's new executive director.

NASHVILLE — Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission members on Friday named Bobby Wilson as the new head of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the state agency overseeing fish and wildlife as well as habitats and enforcement of game laws.

Wilson, a TWRA veteran and the current assistant executive director, assumes his new post as executive director effective June 1. In doing so, he becomes the agency's third chief in 42 years. Wilson replaces Ed Carter, set to retire May 30 after serving as executive director since 2009.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission vote was unanimous. Also up for consideration was another longtime TWRA employee, Tim Cleveland, who is also an officer in the Tennessee National Guard and has been under a long-term military deployment.

Fish & Wildlife Commission Chairman Kurt Holbert said "both candidates we decided to interview were excellent" and noted both have "dedicated a big part of their lives" to TWRA.

Commissioner Jim Ripley said, "We all saw in that interview that Bobby's ready," adding he has "never been more confident in anyone than in Bobby Wilson, and he'll make a fantastic director."

Following the vote, Wilson thanked commissioners for having confidence in his ability to "lead this agency into the future." He praised what he called the "incredibly talented group" of TWRA employees and said, "I look forward to the challenges that may lie ahead."

The agency employs hundreds of workers, issues fish and hunting licenses, oversees boating registration and has divisions for Wildlife & Forestry, Fisheries and Law Enforcement.

As TWRA executive director, Carter is paid a $168,708 annual salary which matches salaries for the state commissioners of Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment and Conservation.

In his current No. 2 role, Wilson was earning $149,736, according to the state's Transparent Tennessee website listing employee salaries for all executive, legislative and judicial branches as well as independent agencies.

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.

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