If you have questions about conservation, ombudsman Tim Smith will get you answers.
Q: What’s an ombudsman?
A: An ombudsman is a person who makes sure peoples’ questions get answered quickly, accurately, and courteously.
Q: How many questions do you get?
A: I’ve responded to more than 36,000 questions since I became ombudsman, which averages to be about 400 to 600 questions a month.
Q: What kinds of questions do people ask?
A: I get lots of “what is this?” questions. People send me photos of something — a snake, an insect, an animal track — and ask me what it is. I also get lots of questions about hunting and fishing rules.
Q: What’s the strangest question you’ve received?
A: I once got a photo that was taken from an airplane. It looked like aliens had cut snowflake patterns into a forest. I found out — after lots of detective work — that it was a biology experiment. Scientists were trying to learn which shape was best for cutting down trees in an overgrown glade so that wildflowers would grow back.
Q: What’s the best part of your job?
A: I get to learn new things about nature every day. Some things that most people see only once in their lives — like albino deer or rare birds — I get to see photos of on a regular basis. I also get to work with lots of smart, helpful conservation department employees. And, I get to make folks happy by answering their questions.
Nichole LeClair Terrill