The Latest: Angler's group responds to wildlife secretary



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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Latest on resignation of Louisiana's secretary of wildlife and fisheries (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

The head of a Louisiana anglers' group denies comments by the state's wildlife and fisheries secretary that the group is a major cause of problems in his department.

Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana executive director David Cresson says it's insulting to suggest that the group's actions have been anything but professional and appropriate.

Secretary Charlie Melancon made the comments in a resignation letter submitted Wednesday. The secretary questions nearly $3.4 million in contracts with the group over the past six years.

Cresson says those contracts were for two very successful programs: one to build artificial reefs and one to tag fish.

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4:20 p.m.

Louisiana's wildlife and fisheries secretary says people in his office have been sabotaging attempts to clean up its finances, and he's resigning Dec. 31 rather than in February.

Charlie Melancon texted a copy of his resignation letter Wednesday to The Associated Press.

It says that when he became secretary, he didn't realize he'd be taking on a troubled agency, and that those troubles continue. He says they're "driven largely" by a recreational anglers' group and people in the agency, though most employees are honest.

Melancon has clashed with recreational fishermen, and been criticized for agency changes he pushed after auditors found shoddy financial management under the previous administration.

He said last week that officials in Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration asked him to leave office in mid-February, and he had agreed.

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This story has been corrected to show the resignation date is Dec. 31, rather than immediately.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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