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Wildlife officials looking to the future

An opportunity to shape the future of Oklahoma’s fish and wildlife conservation is in the works. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, in collaboration with wildlife stakeholders, is creating a
Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. The strategy will address the needs all fish and wildlife species in the state. It will also use a habitat approach, rather than a species-by-species management approach.

All 50 states are creating similar strategies. When fit together like a puzzle, they will show the current state of America’s wildlife and identify actions needed to keep fish and wildlife populations healthy.

“Overall, we’ve made great strides in fish and wildlife conservation over the past few decades,” said Greg Duffy, director of the Wildlife Department. “However, some areas of the conservation effort have been historically under funded.”

Hunters, anglers and boaters, and participants in outdoor recreation have traditionally funded the majority of fish and wildlife conservation. This funding has not been enough to address the needs of all 800 plus wildlife species in Oklahoma. That is the case nationwide, and all state fish and wildlife agencies have been working for 20 years to fill this funding gap.

This strategy is a component of the new, Federal State Wildlife Grants Program: the nation’s core program for keeping America’s wildlife populations healthy.

“At this point, the State Wildlife Grant funding is not permanent, but it gives us an exciting opportunity to develop long-term conservation goals and to demonstrate the need for long-term funding,” said Andrea Crews, project leader and responsive management specialist for the Department. “We’re looking at this as the key to our future success as stewards and caretakers of Oklahoma’s wildlife,” Duffy said.

The Department needs input from citizens and organizations as it develops this comprehensive wildlife strategy. “We’re going to need everyone’s input, including sportsmen and sportswomen, birdwatchers and landowners,” Duffy said.

Public meetings will be held across the state during the first week of March. These forums are Oklahomans’ opportunity to voice important conservation concerns. Details about upcoming meetings, dates and locations will be available soon at wildlifedepartment.com.





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