Game Warden of Year Honored at Wildlife Commission Meeting

December 8, 2017

Gathered for the 2017 Officer of the Year award presentation are, from left,
Wildlife Commissioner Bill Brewster, Raegen Seigfried and Robin Siegfried (all from
Shikar-Safari Club International), Game Warden Spencer Grace, Law Chief Bill Hale,
ODWC Director J.D. Strong, Law Assistant Chief Nathan Erdman, and Law District 8
Lt. Doug Gottschalk. (Don P. Brown/ODWC)

 

Game Warden of Year Honored

at Wildlife Commission Meeting

Representatives of Shikar-Safari Club International recognized Game Warden Spencer Grace, based in Kay County, as Oklahoma’s Wildlife Officer of the Year for 2017. The award was presented during Monday’s meeting of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission in Oklahoma City.

Shikar-SCI members Robin Siegfried and Bill Brewster were on hand as Raegen Siegfried introduced the honoree. “It’s amazing to see what you’ve done for the state of Oklahoma,” he said before giving Grace a commemorative metal plate, plaque and pin.

“It’s truly an honor to be selected as Game Warden of the year, as I believe there are many other well-deserving Wardens who I work with every day,” Grace said.

Bill Hale, chief of Law Enforcement for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, told Commissioners about some of Grace’s accomplishments in teamwork and public outreach that led to his selection by his peers. “He goes way above and beyond,” Hale said, citing Grace’s contributions to the Game Wardens Facebook page and his many community relations efforts. “His is one of the few areas where his hunter education classes still have 100 students.”

Grace was born and raised in Kay County, and always longed to become a Game Warden. As a teen, he attended the first Wildlife Youth Camp sponsored by the Wildlife Department nearly 20 years ago.

From Newkirk High School, Grace went to Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in wildlife and fisheries ecology. He became a Game Warden in 2007 in Osage County, after an internship and a yearlong stint working in the Wildlife Division. In 2009, he transferred to Kay County.

“Some of my very favorite things are teaching youth about the outdoors. I enjoy introducing new people to hunting, trapping and fishing. I get to make a positive impact on the sportsmen and women of Oklahoma.”

Also, Commissioners learned about the Department’s striped bass hybrid management program from Bill Wentroth, north-central region Fisheries supervisor. He explained how these aggressive predator fish, sometimes referred to as “Franken-fish,” are produced at the Byron State Fish Hatchery in a process that involves the cooperation of Fisheries staff at various sites across the state.

The hybrids are functionally sterile, so all 1.25 million hybrid fingerlings stocked in 22 state reservoirs in 2016 were created at the Byron fish hatchery.

Wentroth said the striped bass hybrid populations have done particularly well in Altus-Lugert, Skiatook, Waurika, Carl Blackwell and Sooner lakes. The state record was caught at Altus-Lugert in 1997 and weighed 23 pounds, 4 ounces. It is a successful program that creates exciting outdoor experiences for Oklahoma’s anglers every year, he said.

In other business, Commissioners:

  • Approved a $3,500 donation for trout from Dolese Brothers Co., presented by Kermit Frank, director of communications and community relations.
  • Approved a $2,000 donation from Oklahoma Striped Bass Association for projects related to striped bass and striped bass hybrids.
  • Authorized Director J.D. Strong to negotiate the possible purchase of properties in Beaver, Woodward and Pittsburg counties. 
  • Heard the fiscal year 2017 actuarial valuation report for the Department’s defined benefit retirement plan from Conduent Human Resources Services.

The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate. 

The next scheduled Commission meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, at the Wildlife Department's interim headquarters, 2145 NE 36 St. in Oklahoma City.