Two Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation employees were formally recognized by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) before the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission during a regular meeting April 9 in Miami, Okla.
NWTF Oklahoma President O.D. Curry introduced Spencer Grace, game warden based in Kay County, as the organization’s 2017 National Wildlife Officer of the Year award winner.
Gene T. Miller, NWTF biologist for Oklahoma and West Texas, introduced Jack Waymire, Southeast Region senior wildlife biologist, as the organization’s 2017 Joe Kurz Wildlife Manager of the Year award winner.
Waymire and Grace were each presented trophies and plaques. The NWTF previously announced the Oklahoma award winners during the organization’s 42nd annual Convention and Sport Show earlier this year in Nashville, Tenn.
Another Wildlife Department employee, Clinton “Tres” Phipps of Hodgen, was the Gobbling Championship winner in the Grand National Calling Championships held during the NWTF convention. Also, T.J. Goodpasture, NWTF’s western regional director in Oklahoma, was named Rookie of the Year for the Fundraising and Volunteer Relations Division.
For details about the award winners, go to www.wildlifedepartment.com/outdoor-news/3-wildlife-department-get-nwtf-national-honors.
Also, Commissioners were updated on the Department’s cooperative partnership with the Archery Trade Association. Colin Berg, Education Supervisor for the Department, said combined efforts have created success in several programs offered to the state’s students and archers, including community archery parks in McAlester, Coweta and the Cherokee Nation at Tahlequah; Explore Bowfishing; and Explore Bowhunting. Since 2011, ATA has contributed almost $500,000 to programs in Oklahoma.
ATA President and CEO Matt Kormann along with ATA Vice President and Chief Conservation Officer Dan Forster told Commissioners that successful archery promotion is a result of great partnerships like the one between ATA and Oklahoma.
Also, Commissioners were updated on the status of paddlefish management efforts. Brandon Brown, Fisheries Division Paddlefish Supervisor, described how the Department’s strategy to protect the resource based on reproduction patterns has over time created the best paddlefish fishery in the nation. And he said most anglers understand and support the Department’s use of more restrictive daily and season limits to ensure that paddlefish continue to thrive.
In other business, Commissioners:
- Voted to support the creation of an independent Oklahoma Wildlife Foundation that would exclusively assist the Wildlife Department with funding and completion of wildlife projects, transactions and programs.
- Adopted by a 4-1 vote a written statement of the Commission’s position pertaining to pending legislation, specifically including HB 3371 and SB 1488.
- Received status reports on current federal and state legislation proposals that could affect Wildlife Department operations if passed.
- Recognized Bruce Burton, Wildlife Division Northeast Region Supervisor, for 30 years of service.
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 1 p.m. Monday, May 14, 2018, at Zink Ranch near Skiatook.