The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters in Oklahoma City and its field offices statewide will be closed to visitors beginning Wednesday, March 18, until further notice. The closure is in response to the Governor's emergency declaration and the need to halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The headquarters and field offices, including the Paddlefish Research Center near Miami, Okla., will remain closed until further notice. In addition, scheduled public events through April 15 are being postponed. These include any physical hunter education classes, aquatic education sessions, and student shotgun and archery events. There are no plans to limit turkey season, which opens April 6, and most controlled hunts will continue but pre-hunt check-ins may be modified.
Department employees will continue serving the sportsmen and sportswomen of Oklahoma by working remotely. "We're encouraging everyone to avoid the lines and get online," emphasized Department Director J.D. Strong. “With our online licensing system in place, it makes it so easy for everyone to get a needed license or conduct other business with the Wildlife Department on their computer or with the Go Outdoors Oklahoma mobile app.”
Licenses and permits will continue to be sold online at license.GoOutdoorsOklahoma.com and at regular license vendors. Lifetime license applications may also be submitted and completed online. Customers who experience difficulties online may call the Go Outdoors Help Desk toll-free at (833) 721-1035. The Department’s License Desk can be reached directly at (405) 521-3852 during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The free hunter education course and certification test are available as usual through the ODWC website, wildlifedepartment.com.
Employees will also continue to respond to inquiries on the Department’s normal public communication outlets including its Facebook page (www.facebook.com/OkWildlifeDept), email messages via the “Contact Us” link at www.wildlifedepartment.com, or via the main ODWC phone number at (405) 521-3851.
Game Wardens will be in service across the state as usual; to contact a local Game Warden, consult the directory at www.wildlifedepartment.com/law/game-warden-directory.
Even as many schools, churches and offices are closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Strong reminds all Oklahomans that the great outdoors remains open as usual and more inviting than ever. March and April usually bring some excellent fishing opportunities. And turkey hunting is scheduled to kick off April 4 with the statewide youth season.
“What better way is there to practice ‘social distancing,’ as the health authorities recommend, than to seize the opportunity to get outside and enjoy Oklahoma’s natural resources,” Strong said.
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