Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
Law Enforcement Division
Oklahoma Game Wardens:
Who We Are And What We Do, For You!
For over 100 Years, Oklahoma Game Wardens have been protecting the natural resources of Oklahoma. Game wardens are often the most recognized members of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) team. The ODWC’s mission is as follows: 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. The Law Enforcement Division’s Mission is as follows: Protect the wildlife resources and its habitat and serve the public through law enforcement, education and assistance. Game wardens are public servants, sworn to protect wildlife, the public, and the public's interests in the outdoors. Game wardens are certified peace officers whose primary duties are to enforce state hunting and fishing laws, but they have statewide jurisdiction to act on any violation of law. Game wardens are also commissioned as United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) officers, and are authorized to enforce all federal fish and wildlife laws.
Oklahoma’s fish and wildlife resources belong to the people of Oklahoma and enforcement activities occur on both private and publicly owned lands. Enforcement of fish and wildlife laws ensures future generations will continue to enjoy our great outdoors, for many years to come. Oklahoma game wardens must conduct compliance checks, on hunters and anglers, to ensure proper licenses are possessed and bag limits are followed. In order to catch poachers, game wardens may have to wait, for many hours, day and/or night in remote locations and far from back up.
Oklahoma game wardens are responsible for patrolling 68,679 square miles of private and public lands, 78,578 miles of rivers and streams, more than 1 million surface acres of approximately 1,120 private and public ponds and lakes, and 11,611 miles of shoreline. More than 70 public hunting and fishing areas, consisting of more than 1.6 million acres, are routinely patrolled by game wardens. Native wildlife species protected by the division include: 352 birds, 108 mammals, 176 fish, 81 reptiles and 51 amphibians which live within 10 distinct ecosystems. Included in this are at least 18 listed threatened and/or endangered animal species.
In addition to their primary law enforcement duties, ODWC game wardens also assist federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in a support role when requested. Assistance is provided for warrant service and arrest of wanted fugitives, enforcement of controlled substance laws, public safety laws, traffic, and water/boating safety laws, and response to emergency management situations/natural disasters. Game wardens routinely apprehend dangerous criminals and provide valuable public safety to the citizens and visitors of Oklahoma. Game wardens also assist motorists with flat tires, disabled vehicles, travel directions, and stranded vehicles.
Law Enforcement Division operations are continually changing to meet the demands required by the public and resource. Game wardens conduct special emphasis enforcement efforts, focused to address specific problems, and utilize a variety of tactics and tools. Game wardens routinely use robotic wildlife decoys, aircraft, boats, ATVs/UTVs, night vision equipment, thermal imaging equipment, and computer technology to aid in their efforts. Operation Game Thief (1-800-522-8039) program provides a toll free telephone system for the public to report wildlife violations, anonymously. The enforcement division also oversees the issuance of several permits/licenses, including disability/non-ambulatory permits, commercial hunt areas, feral swine damage, wildlife rehabilitator, and wildlife breeders. Inspections are conducted on all such wildlife facilities, annually.
Oklahoma Game Wardens also play a very important role in providing informational and educational programs concerning natural resources related programs and educating the public about various laws and regulations. Sportsmen's clubs, schools, scout groups and civic organizations often request game wardens to speak about a variety of outdoor topics. Game wardens also spend time visiting with landowners, in their assigned area, encouraging access to hunting and fishing locations for ethical hunters and anglers on their land. Game wardens regularly assist landowners with poaching problems or pass along information about getting fish for their farm pond. They also regularly assist biologists and other ODWC employees with a multitude of tasks.
Oklahoma Game Wardens engage with and educate the public through extensive outreach programs. Game wardens teach hunter education courses, instruct fishing clinics/aquatic education programs, instruct shotgun training and education programs (STEP) and instruct Oklahoma national archery in the schools programs (OKNASP). They also distribute hunting and fishing regulations, or other printed materials, published by the ODWC.
With such a myriad of duties and responsibilities, it is necessary for game wardens to keep abreast of the advances in wildlife forensics, computer technology, emergency response, human behavior and public relations. Game wardens’ duties put them in contact with people from all walks of life and from all around the world. Oklahoma game wardens are professional law enforcement officers and do their job well. Game wardens are constantly in the public eye and are expected to know all about hunting, fishing, wildlife laws, wildlife management, camping and other outdoor activities as well as general information about their assigned area.
The Law Enforcement Division has several specially trained game warden units, for more technically specific situations. These game wardens actively patrol their assigned areas, but when special circumstances arise, they are called upon to put their expertise into action. Focusing on skill-specific training in key areas of expertise, these units can provide more professional service to the public, natural resources, and fellow law enforcement agencies/officers. These specialized units include: wildlife crime scene forensics investigators, hunting related incident investigators, special/covert investigators, law enforcement firearms instructors, law enforcement defensive tactics instructors, law enforcement driver training instructors, and game warden honor guard.
All game wardens are required to attend 14 1/2 weeks of basic law enforcement training at the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET). Newly hired officers are also provided extensive training relating directly to wildlife and law enforcement and department and divisional procedures. All new game wardens participate in a 10 week field training and evaluation program (FTEP) with at least one field training officer (FTO). Daily tasks are observed and evaluated by the FTO, and rated for performance. State mandated training standards require 25 hours of approved law enforcement related training, annually, for all certified peace officers. Training opportunities are also provided to increase knowledge and skills in a variety of areas outside the law enforcement arena.
The Law Enforcement Division is staffed by approximately 116 employees. Their work provides statewide natural resources enforcement services, information and education programs, and other services to address the needs of the Oklahoma’s public and natural resources. Staff positions include 88 Game Wardens, 16 Lieutenants, 8 Captains, 1 Operations Manager, 1 Senior Administrative Assistant, 1 Lt. Colonel, and 1 Colonel. All positions, except the Senior Administrative Assistant, are certified law enforcement officers. The Division enlists other ODWC employees, certified as reserve game wardens, to assist in law enforcement activities. Roughly, this is one officer for every 37,500 residents and each has an average patrol area of 780 square miles. In 2015, approximately 1.6 million people, 16 years of age and older, fished, hunted, or enjoyed wildlife watching. Game wardens are policing activities that have an economic impact greater than $2.3 billion, in Oklahoma.
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Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Mission:
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, aestheti