About the ODWC
The mission of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is the management, protection, and enhancement of wildlife resources and habitat for the scientific, educational, recreational, aesthetic, and economic benefits to present and future generations of citizens and visitors to Oklahoma.
Game and Fish Department Established
In 1909, the Association presented the second state legislature with a bill asking for the governor to appoint a state game warden and authorize the warden to hire eight salaried employees. The law was adopted and the Game and Fish Department was created. The first hunting license came into being with the fee set at $1.25.
Four years later the Department disbanded and the $94,000 accumulated from hunting license sales was put into the state capitol building fund. State sportsmen protested until finally the Department was reestablished in 1915. The first state hatchery was built at Medicine Park after the Department received $70,000 in appropriations.
In 1917, the legislature returned the Department's $94,000, specifying that the funds be used for developing game preserves and building fish hatcheries.
Throughout the 1920s more hatcheries were built, including one near Durant (1916-17), near Tahlequah (1924-26), Heavener (1925-26) and Cherokee in 1929.
The 1925 Legislature established the Oklahoma Game and Fish Commission largely through the encouragement of the
Oklahoma Division of the Isaac Walton League of America. The first fishing licenses were issued the same year and for the first time Oklahoma also protected its furbearing mammals.
Expansion During '30s and '40s
The 1930s and early '40s brought refinement to the game management techniques in Oklahoma. Efforts to stock ring-necked pheasants, initiated in the '20s, became fruitful in the 1930s. Bobwhite quail management was also emphasized. In 1943, changes in the authority delegated to various personnel made the state game warden duties comparable to those of a modern Department director. The Game and Fish Department's first monthly magazine, Oklahoma Game and Fish News, was born in 1945.
During this time the state capitol building housed the Department. The Department suffered from a lack of space until 1942 when it moved to the first floor. Meanwhile, fisheries personnel conducted research in basement rooms at the capitol.
In 1947, the state Game and Fish Warden title was changed to Director. The establishment of a single office in Oklahoma City centralized and strengthened the enforcement of the state game statutes.
The first pheasant season opened in 1948 with free permits issued for certain northwestern counties. At least one dream of early Oklahoma wildlife biologists had finally become a reality after 22 years of effort with the oriental import.
The game and fish statutes were updated in 1949, with fees for fishing and hunting licenses rising to $2, or $3.50 for a combination license.
Early Efforts Begin to Show Results
In 1960, efforts began for establishing several exotic bird species in the state, and the first fall turkey season was held. Two years later the first elk hunt was held and 42 elk were harvested.
Two years later the Department installed 14 radio base and relay stations, giving the Department statewide two-way radio communication.
The 1960s saw the Department striving to provide the state's sportsmen with quality outdoor recreation. A significant trout stocking program began in 1964; mule deer from Colorado were released in the Glass Hills and the first spring turkey season was opened. The Department moved into its own building in 1966, the same year the first antelope season in state history was held.
The Department first offered hunter safety programs in 1965. Initially offered on a voluntary basis, the course became
mandatory in 1987 for all persons born after Jan. 1, 1972.
The '60s and '70s saw various hunting seasons expanded, a stabilized deer herd and new fish species introduced such as the striped bass. The recreational opportunities for anglers and hunters were growing.
Great strides were made in the '80s. The trout stocking program was expanded; saugeye and giant Canada geese
establishment programs were initiated. Three new programs -- Conservation Education, Aquatic Resources Education and Nongame Wildlife -- were created. In addition, hunters saw the deer harvest jump from about 14,000 in 1980 to more than 70,000 in 1997, expansion of controlled hunts and the first statewide turkey season. Three major wildlife management areas were purchased, adding 52,500 acres to Department-managed lands.
Looking to the Future
Early Oklahoma conservationists fought to save the last remnants of the state's game animals and fish for future generations. The men who formulated Oklahoma's modern wildlife conservation practices in the '40s and '50s, emphasized the wise use of our outdoor resources. They built a tradition, a tradition based on providing variety and quality in state hunting and fishing. The Department has retained this tradition it will continue to clearly demonstrate this by building for the future a healthy environment where nature can survive in harmony with the needs of modern man.
History of the Wildlife Department
J.D. Strong was selected in September 2016 by the eight-member Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission to serve as the Director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
J.D. Strong came on board as Director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in October 2016 after 23 years of experience working in the environmental arena. He had been Executive Director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board since 2010. Though he originally started his career doing water and biological research for the OWRB, his time there was split while he served as former Gov. Brad Henry’s Secretary of the Environment from 2008-10 and before that as Director of Environmental Affairs then Chief of Staff in the state Office of the Secretary of Environment. He brings to the Department his rich experience working with legislators, sister agencies, partner organizations and key stakeholders on a number of complex environmental issues, such as the historic water settlement with the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations.
An active sportsman, Strong is a fifth-generation Oklahoman from Weatherford. He earned a degree in wildlife ecology from Oklahoma State University in 1993.
Assistant Director, Operations
Assistant Director of Administration & Finance
Information and Education Chief
Law Enforcement Chief
Who pays for wildlife in Oklahoma?
The agency receives no general tax revenues.
The bulk of Department income is generated from the sale of annual hunting and fishing licenses. The agency still works for all of the citizens of Oklahoma, though. The next time you see a white-tailed deer, a bald eagle’s nest or a child’s smile after catching his or her first fish, you can thank the Wildlife Department and the many dedicated sportsmen and women who pay to keep our outdoor heritage alive.
Sources of Income
The Department has an annual budget of about $61.5 million. The agency receives no general tax revenues. The bulk of Department income is generated from the sale of annual hunting and fishing licenses.
Funds received from:
- Hunting and Fishing License Sales (44%)
- Federal Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Grants (34 %)
- Other Income (22%)
- Agriculture and Oil Leases
- Other Wildlife Sales (penalties and fines collected due to fish and game law violations, magazine sales, Deer Management Assistance Program, the sale of used equipment and vehicles, boat and motor registration, etc.)
- Donations and Misc. Income ( endangered species funds, from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for various projects, from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act for wetlands protection, and from the Forest Stewardship program.)
Please note that we cannot be responsible for the accuracy or content of other agencies or organizations. Thank you for visiting Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
- Chickasaw National Recreation Area
- Discover the Forest - encourages and helps young people get outdoors.
- Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- National Marine Fisheries Service
- National Park Service
- National Wildlife Refuge System
- Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge
- Little River National Wildlife Refuge
- Optima National Wildlife Refuge
- Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge
- Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge
- Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge
- Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge
- Washita National Wildlife Refuge
- Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
- Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Aquaculture
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Lake Level Information)
- U.S. Dept. Agriculture Wildlife Services
- USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service -Oklahoma Offices
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- US Fish and Wildlife Service Federal Aid
- U.S. Forest Service
OTHER STATE FISH AND WILDLIFE AGENCIES
- Alabama Game and Fish Division
- Alaska Department of Fish and Game
- Arizona Game and Fish Department
- Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
- California Department of Fish and Game
- Colorado Division of Wildlife
- Connecticut Fisheries Division and Wildlife Division
- Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife in the Department of Natural Resources
- Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission
- Georgia Wildlife Resources Division
- Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife and Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources
- Idaho Department of Fish and Game
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources
- Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources
- Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
- Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
- Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
- Maryland Department of Natural Resources
- Massachusetts Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement
- Michigan Department of Resources
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
- Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks
- Missouri Department of Conservation
- Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks
- Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
- Nevada Division of Wildlife
- New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
- New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife
- New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
- New York Department of Environmental Conservation
- North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
- North Dakota Game and Fish Department
- Ohio Division of Wildlife
- Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
- Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
- Pennsylvania Game Commission
- Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
- South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
- South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks
- Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
- Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
- West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
- Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Fishing Related Links
- 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited
- Anglers Legacy Program
- Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation
- Directory of Aquaculture Producers
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Golden Alga Site
- Fish Consumption Advisories
- Boating information link
- Lake Associations
- Lake Level
- Oklahoma Water Atlas
- Oklahoma Corps Lakes Gateway
- 100th Meridian Initiative
- Protect Your Waters
- Take Me Fishing - Oklahoma
- Trout Unlimited
- Tulsa Flyfishers
Conservation related links
- American Bird Conservancy
- American Fisheries Society
- Angler Survey
- Association for Conservation Information
- Association of Zoos and Aquariums
- Bat Conservation International
- Bird Cinema
- Birds of Oklahoma
- Bow hunting council of Oklahoma
- Carp Anglers
- Catfish Angling
- Directory of Aquaculture Producers
- Ducks Unlimited
- Fishing Resources Search
- Fur Takers of Oklahoma
- Oklahoma Fishing Notebook
- Hunt Fair Chase
- Hunt and Fish Finders
- Hunting and Recreational Lease Registry
- Hunter Survey
- International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
- Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management
- IssacWalton League of America
- Kiamichi-Country Outdoor News
- Lower Mountain Fork River Foundation
- Lorenz's OK Seeds, LLC
- MidWest Frogs
- National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative
- National Shooting Sports Foundation shooting range database
- National Trappers Association
- National Wildlife Federation
- National Wild Turkey Federation
- Noble Foundation
- North American Grouse Partnership
- Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center - Waterfowl Identification
- Oklahoma Aquarium
- Oklahoma Bass Fishing
- Oklahoma Bird Identification
- Oklahoma Biological Survey
- Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan
- Oklahoma Fish Stickers Bowfishing Club
- Oklahoma Fur Bearer Alliance
- Oklahoma State Game Warden Association
- Oklahoma National Wild Turkey Federation
- Oklahoma Predator Hunter Association
- Oklahoma Taxidermists Association
- Oklahoma Station Safari Club International
- Oklahoma Youth Hunter Education Challenge
- Oklahoma Mesonet (60 hour Oklahoma Weather forecasts)
- Old & Antique Fishing Lure
- Quail Unlimited
- Quail Forever
- Pheasants Forever
- Recreation on public lands
- Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
- Safari Club International
- Safari Club Big Game Records Information
- Skiatook Lake
- Six Old Geezers Lake Texoma Striper Fishing
- Snakes of North America
- Southern Division American Fisheries Society Reservoir Committee (artificial structures and aquatic vegetation)
- Southwest Power Authority (Lake levels and generation schedules)
- Sutton Avian Research Center
- Teaming With Wildlife
- The Audubon Society
- The Nature Conservancy
- Trosper Archery Club
- Trout Unlimited
- Tulsa Flyfishers
- United Sportmen's Alliance
- Weather Information
- Wildlife Forever
- The Wildlife Society