Fish and Wildlife loses contract after report of sexual atmosphere at fish hatchery

Editor’s note: This story was reported in collaboration with Austin Jenkins of public radio’s Northwest News Network.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has lost a multimillion-dollar contract to run a pair of fish hatcheries following a report of a sexual culture among top-ranking employees at one of the facilities.

Officials with the Douglas County Public Utility District, which owns the hatcheries, decided Monday to terminate its one-year contract with the state to operate the Wells and Methow hatcheries in north central Washington.

The contract was renewed in June and was set to pay out $1.36 million to the state for the Wells Hatchery and another $715,000 for the Methow Hatchery, said Meaghan Vibbert, a spokeswoman for the PUD.

The four highest-ranking employees at Wells were fired by the state in early August after an investigation into sexual-harassment claims found a workplace atmosphere riddled with sexual conversations and hazing. The environment drove at least one woman to leave the office, according to the report.

Bruce Botka, a spokesman for…

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