Department of Fish and Wildlife Records Guide
Agency History - 1921-1975
During this period the functions of fish and game conservation were administered by two separate agencies. The State Fish Commission administered commercial fishing laws and appointed a master fish warden while the Game Commission administered game and game fish laws and appointed a state game warden.
In 1921, the duties of the Fish Commission were to:
provide for the better protection, preservation, and propagation of salmon, shad, sturgeon, and other anadromous and food and shell fishes;
see that all laws relating to the commercial fisheries of the state are enforced;
provide license schedules and fees and methods of collection;
fix open and closed seasons for commercial fishing on certain streams; and
create a department of hatcheries and fish culture.
The commission's duties remained virtually unchanged for over fifty years. In 1975, although more simply stated, the commission's duties remained to preserve, protect, develop, cultivate, promote, and propagate all fish species under its jurisdiction and found within the state of Oregon (ORS 506.036 (2)).
The Fish Commission consisted of three commissioners appointed by the governor. These commissioners served staggered four-year terms, annually selected one of their members as chairman, and appointed a master fish warden who served at their will. In 1951 the master fish warden became known as the state fisheries director.
By 1973 the Fish Commission was operating with a budgetary appropriation of over six million dollars from the state general fund. A slightly larger amount was expected to be spent in federal funds. The commission also received $500,000 in transfer revenue from the Wildlife Commission for the sale of daily salmon licenses and tags. These transferred funds were appropriated for the anadromous fish programs. In addition, the Fish Commission budget included $500,000 to the Oregon State Police for enforcement of commercial fishing laws.
The Game Commission was established to formulate the general policies and programs of the state respecting the management of wildlife, game fish, and wildlife recreation. It was also responsible for setting hunting seasons, bag limits, and methods of taking wildlife and game fish as well as for operating facilities such as fish hatcheries, game farms, public shooting grounds, game management and public access sites.
The game warden's title was changed to state game supervisor in 1931 and again in 1949 to game director. With each change in title came an increase in administrative powers. The 1973 Legislative Assembly renamed the Game Commission to the Wildlife Commission to reflect a growing concern for managing all the state's wildlife and not just the state's game species.
In a report presented before the 1975 Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee the current wildlife management statutes and wildlife management goals were described:
It is the policy of the State of Oregon that wildlife shall be managed to provide optimum recreational and aesthetic benefits for present and future generations of citizens of this state. In furtherance of this policy, the goals of wildlife management are to:
maintain all species of wildlife at optimum levels and prevent the serious depletion of any indigenous species;
develop and manage the lands and waters of this state in a manner that will enhance the production and public enjoyment of wildlife;
permit an orderly and equitable utilization of available wildlife;
develop and maintain public access to the lands and waters of the state and wildlife resources thereon; and
regulate wildlife populations and the public enjoyment of wildlife in a manner that is compatible with the primary uses of the lands and waters of the state and provides optimum public recreational benefits.
The commission did not receive revenues from the state general fund but operated on funds appropriated by the Legislative Assembly from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and tags, excise taxes on sporting equipment, and federal funds.
Policing powers of the Game Commission were transferred to the Department of State Police when the police agency was organized in 1931. During the 1973-1975 biennium the commission transferred over $3.5 million to the Oregon State Police for enforcement of hunting, fishing, and recreational laws and regulations.
By 1974 the commission consisted of five commissioners appointed by the governor. Two commissioners were selected from that portion of the state east of the Cascades, two from west of the Cascades, and one from the state at large. The commission selected one of its members as chairman and appointed a director of the Wildlife Commission who held office at the pleasure of the commission.