New Chief, Assistant Chief Among Law Enforcement Promotions
Recent promotions have resulted in new faces in the top three positions of the Law Enforcement Division of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Col. Nathan Erdman, Chief of Law Enforcement
Game Warden Nathan Erdman has been promoted to Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. Erdman previously served as Assistant Chief of the division since 2016.
The Law Enforcement Division is responsible for upholding the laws and regulations that protect Oklahoma's wildlife resources. Game wardens are public servants sworn to protect wildlife and the public's interests in the outdoors. These certified peace officers have statewide jurisdiction to act on any law violation. They check licenses and bag limits of hunters and anglers. Oftentimes wardens may have to wait, day or night, for long periods in concealed locations to nab the poachers who are stealing fish and game.
As Chief, Erdman oversees the division of about 120 people, the largest of the Department's five divisions. Employees consist of Game Wardens, Game Warden Supervisors and eight District Chiefs. Headquarters staff includes an Assistant Chief, an Operations Manager and Training Supervisor, and a secretary.
“I’m just lucky I’ve got 117 of the finest employees that I could ever want,” he said. “I’m up here to work for them; trying to make sure that they have everything that they need to get their job done and get it done more efficiently.”
Erdman said he knew early in his life that he wanted to work as a game warden. "I grew up in the country, hunting and fishing." He recalls asking his college adviser what classes would be required to become a game warden.
Erdman earned a fish and wildlife management degree at Northeastern State University, and was hired as a game warden shortly after he graduated. His first assignment was in Beaver County in the Panhandle, where he spent 13 years. He then transferred to his home Okfuskee County in 2007. A year later, he was promoted to Supervisor in District 4, where he worked until becoming assistant chief in 2016. He has worked for the Wildlife Department for 24 years.
He said becoming Chief has been somewhat surreal. “I grew up in the small town of Okemah, and graduated with 43 kids. To go from small town to being Chief of enforcement for all of Oklahoma’s Game Wardens is something you would never imagine.”
Game wardens must do their job well, as they are constantly in the public eye. They are expected to know all there is to know about hunting, fishing, wildlife laws, wildlife management, camping and other outdoor activities as well as general information about their county.
Game wardens often spend time visiting landowners in their county, encouraging them to allow ethical hunters and anglers on their land to harvest the surplus wildlife. They may assist the landowner with poaching problems or give them information about stocking fish in a pond.
Game wardens frequently help teach hunter education courses and fishing clinics. And they often help operate events for students involved in the Department’s Archery in the Schools and Shooting Sports programs. They occasionally visit with sportsmen's clubs, schools, Scout groups and civic groups. They may speak about new laws and regulations, or about some topic directly related to hunting or fishing. They may also pass along printed information published by the Wildlife Department.
Lt. Col. Wade Farrar, Assistant Chief of Law Enforcement
Game Warden Wade Farrar was promoted to Assistant Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. Previously a captain serving as District 5 chief, Farrar is now working out of the Department headquarters in Oklahoma City.
“I see this as a tremendous opportunity to play a larger role in the continued improvement of my Division and the Department as a whole. And also to serve my fellow Wardens and the sportsmen and women of Oklahoma in a larger capacity and make the most positive impact I can on the protection of our wildlife resource for future generations.”
He was raised in Crescent and graduated from high school there in 1997. He originally wanted to attend medical school, and from 1998 to 2006, he served as a medic in the Air Force Reserve. It was during this time that he met Game Warden Joe Adair’s son, who happened to be a fellow reservist. Adair’s son suggested to Farrar that he should consider becoming a Game Warden, and that’s what sparked his interest.
During his career, Farrar has served as Law Enforcement Division Honor Guard commander, Wildlife Youth Camp director, Game Warden liaison to the Oklahoma Emergency Management System, Law Enforcement representative for the hunting and fishing regulations guide, and teacher of a Wildlife Law Enforcement class at Oklahoma State University.
“I plan on continuing the strides I’ve made in the first three levels of my career as a Game Warden building camaraderie, boosting moral and increasing the relevancy of our Game Wardens and the Wildlife Department.”
Farrar and his wife of 17 years, Kelley, have two sons and live in Cashion. In his spare time, he enjoys working cattle and team roping, hunting, fishing and serving his church.
Capt. Marni Loftis, Operations Manager/Training Coordinator
With her recent promotion, Capt. Marni Loftis has assumed the duties of operations manager and training coordinator in the Law Enforcement Division.
Loftis is the first female Game Warden in the Department’s 110-year history to advance to the rank of Captain. After serving 16 years based in Washington, Craig and Delaware counties, she is now stationed at the Department’s Oklahoma City headquarters.
“It is an honor to be promoted in the Law Enforcement Division. I hope to surpass the expectations of the position and to assist with the progression of our division and agency.”
Loftis was born in Shawnee and was raised in Commerce, Texas. “I grew up hunting, fishing and shooting with my family, and it became a core part of my identity.” She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in fish and wildlife management from Northeastern State University, then became the second woman ever hired as a state Game Warden. Later she earned a graduate certificate in wildlife management from Oregon State University.
Loftis has been honored many times in her career. In 2004, she received the Oklahoma State Game Warden Association’s Silver Bullet Award for extraordinary effort in the pursuit of justice to protect the wildlife resources of Oklahoma. In 2008. she received the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association’s Torch Award in recognition of outstanding contributions in protecting and conserving natural resources.
“Being a Game Warden in the field was the best 16 years of my life. Some of my favorite aspects of being a game warden were educating youths, conducting investigations and mastering the art of obtaining confessions, as well as being a field training officer. … It is hard to give up something you are so passionate about.
“However, my passion for fieldwork is exactly what made me accept this position. I hope to assist our Game Wardens in the field by providing improved continuing education opportunities and by providing improved new-hire training and field training requirements.
“My goal is to serve our wardens so they may better serve our sportsmen.”
Her new role also includes administering Oklahoma’s participation in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact and assisting in investigations.
In her spare time, Loftis enjoys kayaking, wildlife photography and painting.
Capt. Mark Reichenberger, District 8 Chief
With his recent promotion to Captain, Game Warden Mark Reichenberger has become Chief of District 8 in the Law Enforcement Division.
“I consider it a great honor to have been selected for the job. I’ve always aspired to having that position,” said the 30-year veteran Game Warden now based in Woodward County. “I’ve had excellent leadership in the Department and felt it my obligation to step up to the challenge.”
Reichenberger now oversees 12 Game Wardens in the district that includes Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Garfield, Grant Harper, Kay, Major, Noble, Texas, Woods and Woodward counties.
Reichenberger was raised in Alva. He attended Northwestern Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in conservation law enforcement.
In 1989, he was hired as a Game Warden based in Harper County. He moved to Woodward County when he was promoted to a District 8 warden supervisor in 2009.
He and his wife, Marita, were married in college, and they have an adult son and daughter, and two grandchildren.
Reichenberger said one challenge facing the multigenerational Game Warden force in his district “is leading my guys into this online information world we now live in.” He said he will draw on the great leadership skills passed down from his predecessors.
Besides staying busy with two grandchildren, Reichenberger said he has always been an outdoors enthusiast. “I have to pinch myself from time to time just to remind me that they actually pay me to do this!”