Adjusting the official name of the California Department of Fish and Game to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is no insignificant effort. The move will cost California taxpayers approximately $300,000 and it also alludes to the evolving mission of the department, according to state officials.
Originally established as the Board of the Fish Commissioners in 1870, the agency expanded to include game animals in 1878. In 1909 the name of the agency was changed to the Fish and Game Commission, then again to Division of Fish and Game in 1927 and finally elevated to the Department of Fish and Game in 1951.
For 61 years it stayed that way until Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation changing the name last week to indicate that many more non-game animal species fall under the jurisdiction of the agency, a move embraced by environmentalists and animal rights activists. The bill also allows the newly-renamed department to widen the spectrum of fees it may collect, outside of the “traditional” methods of fund-raising through hunting and fishing licenses.
Sportsmens’ groups have taken two sides to this change. President of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance, Bill Gaines, said hunters were outnumbered, that they weren’t adequately represented in the department’s makeover. Mike Faw, a spokesman for the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance told The Reporter in Vacaville, California, “generally, that means a shift toward butterflies, endangered species and other stuff like that.”
Spokeswoman for Ducks Unlimited Wendy Hopkins believes the move will not hamper waterfowl hunting under the department’s new mission. She said there is adequate protection built into state law that prevents money raised from hunting and fishing licenses to be used for other purposes.
The $300,000 will mostly go toward renewing departmental websites and computer systems, while changing names on apparel, license forms and other logos will be gradually used up and replaced when the time comes as part of normal functioning costs. The change goes into effect January 1, 2013.