New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Celebrates 125 Years

One of oldest state wildlife agencies in country dates back to 1892

March 31, 2017

By Lisa Lakey

One of the oldest state wildlife management agencies in the country, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, is celebrating its 125th anniversary. The division marked the event in March by rededicating itself to its mission and announcing a year-long celebration of stories and events.

“During the 125th anniversary, we rededicate ourselves to our mission of protecting, conserving and managing our wildlife resources for the benefit and enjoyment of many generations to come,” Acting Division Director Larry Herrighty said. “It is my sincere hope that residents and visitors take a few minutes to learn about our history and all of the great work that we do and, most important, to take advantage of the many wildlife-related recreation opportunities that New Jersey has to offer.”

The Division’s roots go back to legislation passed on March 8, 1892. The new law called for the appointments of three fish and game commissioners and a paid game protector for the “better protection of the fishing interests and of the game birds and game animals of this state, and for the better enforcement of the laws relating thereto.” With the flourish of a pen by Gov. Leon Abbett, a new era of wildlife conservation began.

On April 22, 1970, America’s first Earth Day, New Jersey became the third state in the nation to pool its environmental activities into a single agency and formed the Department of Environmental Protection. Wildlife came under the territory of the newly named New Jersey Division of Fish and Game, renamed again to the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife in 1979. Since 2000, it has been the Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Today the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife manages nearly 350,000 acres of wildlife management areas. It oversees all wildlife species in the state, educates the public about wildlife-related issues and enforces all wildlife protection laws through its team of dedicated conservation officers. The Division also provides scientific analyses and advice to various state councils and committees, including the New Jersey Fish and Game Council.

“We can always count on the Division of Fish and Wildlife to provide us with the scientific data and other information we need to make sound decisions on behalf of everyone in the state,” New Jersey Fish and Game Council Chairman David Burke said. “I congratulate the Division of Fish and Wildlife on this milestone and look forward to continuing to work with the division toward our shared goal of conserving our fish and wildlife resources for all to enjoy.”

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The 125th anniversary will be commemorated throughout 2017 by highlighting the historical side of the Division of Fish and Wildlife on its website and social media. They will also relive New Jersey’s conservation success stories through the Division’s efforts, such as its restoration of bald eagles, award-winning hunter education program and numerous public outreach initiatives. The anniversary will also be celebrated during special events, starting with the Pequest Trout Hatchery Open House, April 1-2.

“We are truly fortunate to have a remarkable diversity of fish and wildlife species in New Jersey and hundreds of dedicated professionals who are passionate about protecting and properly managing these resources for the public’s benefit,” Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said. “The Christie Administration is proud to celebrate the outstanding service the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife continues to provide to millions of residents and visitors.”

For more information on the 125th anniversary and to view upcoming events, visit NJFishandWildlife.com.

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