Every organization should have a purpose, a reason for being, a mission. That mission should be expressed in their Mission Statement. State Game Agencies were originally created to protect “valuable” species that were disappearing due to overharvesting. They were also created to destroy “undesirable” vermin, pests and predators, but have evolved into agencies that are focused more on natural resources instead of just game species and now are responsible for protecting non-game, sensitive and endangered species, including species they once attempted to eradicate.
Why does this matter? It matters because our State Wildlife Agencies have the primary responsibility for managing and conserving our fish and wildlife resources. If they screw up, then the Federal Government will take over under the Endangered Species Act, but we should hope this never happens.
Take a look at your State’s Mission Statement (see table below) to read their purpose for existing in their own words.
- What are the responsibilities of your State Wildlife Agency?
- Does your State’s Mission Statement have clear prioritized goals and objectives?
- Does it include long-term protection?
- Is their purpose and goals what you previously thought?
- How would you grade them on accomplishing their mission?
- How would you change the mission?
State Fish and Wildlife Agency Mission Statements
|AK||To conserve & enhance Alaska’s wildlife & habitats & provide for a wide range of public uses & benefits|
|AL||To manage, protect, conserve & enhance the wildlife & aquatic resources of Alabama for the sustainable benefit of the people of Alabama|
|AR||To wisely manage all the fish & wildlife resources of Arkansas while providing maximum enjoyment for the people|
|AZ||To conserve, enhance & restore Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources & habitats through aggressive protection & management programs & to provide wildlife resources & safe watercraft & off-highway vehicle recreation for the enjoyment, appreciation and use by present and future generations|
|CA||To manage Cal.’s diverse fish, wildlife & plant resources & the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values & for their use & enjoyment by the public|
|CO||To perpetuate the wildlife resources of the state, to provide a quality state parks system & to provide enjoyable & sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities that educate & inspire current & future generations to serve a active stewards of Colorado|
|CT||To conserve,improve and protect the air, water & other natural resources & the environment in order to enhance the health, safety & welfare of the people|
|DE||To conserve & manage Delaware’s fish & wildlife resources, provide safe & enjoyable fishing, hunting & boating opportunities to citizens & visitors & improve the public’s understanding & interest in the state’s fish & wildlife resources|
|FL||Managing fish & wildlife resources for their long-term well-being & the benefit of people|
|GA||To sustain, enhance, protect & conserve Georgia’s natural, historic & cultural resources for present & future generations, while recognizing the importance of promoting the development of commerce & industry that utilize sound environmental practices|
|HI||To responsibly manage & protect watersheds, native ecosystems & cultural resources & provide outdoor recreation & sustainable forest products opportunities, while facilitating partnerships, community involvement & education. Ma-lama i ka aina (Caring for the Land)|
|IA||To conserve & enhance our natural resources in cooperation with individuals & organizations to improve the quality of life for Iowans & ensure a legacy for future generations|
|ID||All wildlife …shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated & managed…by such means, or in such manner, as will preserve, protect & perpetuate such wildlife & provide for the citizens of this state &, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing & trapping|
|IL||To provide leadership with the restoration, management & protection of wildlife populations & their habitats for the purposes of providing citizens & visitors of Illinois with a quality environment, a state rich in wildlife diversity, compatible recreational opportunities & responsible oversight of the public’s wildlife|
|IN||To professionally manage Indiana’s fish & wildlife for present & future generations, balancing ecological, recreational & economic benefits|
|KS||Conserve & enhance Kansas natural heritage, its wildlife & its habitats-to assure future generations the benefits of the state’s diverse, living resources;Provide the public with opportunities for the use & appreciation of the natural resources… consistent with the conservation of those resources;Inform the public of the status of the natural resources of Kansas to promote understanding & gain assistance in achieving this mission|
|KY||To conserve & enhance fish & wildlife resources & provide opportunity for hunting, fishing, trapping, boating & other wildlife related activities|
|LA||To preserve & enhance the nonrenewable natural resources of the state, consisting of land, water, oil, gas & other minerals, through conservation, regulation, management & development to ensure that the state of Louisiana realizes appropriate economic benefit from its asset base|
|MA||To protect, promote & enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural & recreational resources for the well-being of all|
|MD||Securing a sustainable future for our environment, society & economy by preserving, protecting, restoring & enhancing the State’s natural resources|
|ME||On the protection & enhancement of the state’s inland fisheries & wildlife, while at the same time providing for the wise use of these resources. Assuring the conservation & use of these resources is vital to the state’s economy|
|MI||Committed to the conservation, protection, management, use & enjoyment of the state’s natural & cultural resources for current & future generations|
|MN||To work with citizens to conserve & manage the state’s natural resources, to provide outdoor recreation opportunities & to provide for commercial uses of natural resources in a way that creates a sustainable quality of life|
|MO||To protect & manage the forest, fish & wildlife resources of the state; to facilitate & provide opportunity for all citizens to use, enjoy & learn about these resources|
|MS||To conserve & enhance Mississippi’s wildlife, fisheries & parks, provide quality outdoor recreation & engage the public in natural resource conservation|
|MT||Provides for the stewardship of the fish, wildlife, parks & recreational resources of Montana while contributing to the quality of life for present & future generations|
|NC||To conserve North Carolina’s wildlife resources & their habitats & provide programs & opportunities that allow hunters, anglers, boaters;other outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy wildlife-associated recreation|
|ND||To protect, conserve & enhance fish & wildlife populations & their habitat for sustained public consumptive & non-consumptive use|
|NE||Stewardship of the state’s fish, wildlife, park & outdoor recreation resources in the best long-term interests of the people & those resources|
|NH||As the guardian of the state’s fish, wildlife & marine resources… Conserve, manage & protect these resources & their habitats; Inform & educate the public about these resources & Provide the public with opportunities to use & appreciate these resources|
|NJ||To protect & manage the State’s fish & wildlife to maximize their long-term biological, recreational & economic values for all New Jerseyans|
|NM||To provide & maintain an adequate supply of wildlife & fish within New Mexico by utilizing a flexible management system that provides for their protection, propagation, regulation, conservation & for their use as public recreation|
|NV||To protect, preserve, manage & restore wildlife & its habitat for their aesthetic, scientific, educational, recreational & economic benefits to citizens of Nevada & U.S.|
|NY||To conserve, improve & protect New York’s natural resources & environment & to prevent, abate & control water, land & air pollution, in order to enhance the health, safety & welfare of the people of the state & their overall economic & social well-being|
|OH||To conserve & improve fish & wildlife resources & their habitats for sustainable use & appreciation by all|
|OK||Management, protection & enhancement of wildlife resources & habitat for the scientific, educational, recreational, aesthetic & economic benefits to present & future generations of citizens & visitors to Oklahoma|
|OR||To protect & enhance Oregon’s fish & wildlife & their habitats for use & enjoyment by present & future generations|
|PA||To manage all wild birds, wild mammals & their habitats for current & future generations|
|RI||To ensure that the Freshwater, Marine & Wildlife resources of… Rhode Island will be conserved & managed for equitable & sustainable use|
|SC||Protects, manages & enhances the state’s habitats & associated wildlife for the public benefit of present & future generations|
|SD||Manage South Dakota’s wildlife & fisheries resources & their associated habitats for their sustained & equitable use & for the benefit, welfare & enjoyment of the citizens of this state & its visitors|
|TN||To preserve, conserve, manage, protect & enhance the fish & wildlife of the state & their habitats for the use, benefit & enjoyment of the citizens of Tennessee & its visitors|
|TX||To manage & conserve the natural & cultural resources of Texas & to provide hunting, fishing & outdoor recreation opportunities for the use & enjoyment of present & future generations|
|UT||Our mission is to serve the people of Utah as trustee & guardian of the state’s wildlife|
|VA||To manage Virgina’s wildlife & inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; to provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife…|
|VT||To protect & conserve our fish, wildlife, plants & their habitats for the people of Vermont|
|WA||To preserve, protect & perpetuate fish, wildlife & ecosystems while providing sustainable fish & wildlife recreational & commercial opportunities|
|WI||To protect & enhance our natural resources: our air, land & water; our wildlife, fish & forests & the ecosystems that sustain all life. To provide a healthy, sustainable environment & a full range of outdoor opportunities. To ensure the right of all people to use & enjoy these resources in their work and leisure. To work with people to understand each other’s views & to carry out the public will. & in this partnership consider the future and generations to follow|
|WV||A long range comprehensive program for the exploration, conservation, development, protection, enjoyment & use of the natural resources of West Virginia|
|WY||Promote & maintain the availability of high quality habitat to sustain & enhance wildlife populations in the future|
Note: For brevity and to save space in the table, I have used the “&” for each case of the word “and” and have left out some non-specific “filler” words and punctuation. Missions Statements will change over time, but I believe these Missions Statements to be current and accurate at the time of publication.
Common Themes among State Wildlife Mission Statements
Levels of Wildlife Management: Maintain, Improve or Restore Population
In their missions statements, 40 states use terms like “conserve”, “preserve, “protect” or “maintain” which implies the status of wildlife in their charge are basically in good shape and only need to be preserved. Twenty-three states use terms like “enhance” or “improve”, which indicates habitats need to be improved or wildlife populations need to be increased. Only four states (AZ, IL, MD & NV) use the term “restore” which is an admission that habitats or populations are in need of restoration.
Note: The term “Preserve” used by five states, does not imply to keep resources in a pristine or unimpaired state as does the U.S. National Park Service.
US Park Service Mission: “The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world”.
Wildlife for Future Generations?
Only 30 of 50 states imply a long term promise of maintaining habitats or populations with specific terms like “future”, “future generations”, “long-term”, “long-range”, “perpetuate”, “sustain” or “ensure”. Fourteen states use the term “future generations”. Six additional states (AR, CO, MT, NE ,NH & UT) imply this long term planning with their use of the terms “trustee”, “guardian”, “steward” or “wise managment” as is consistent with the Public Trust Doctrine for wildlife.
Recreational and Commercial Benefits of Wildlife
Thirty-six states recognize the recreational benefit of hunting and fishing for people with the use of words like “benefit”, “enjoyment”, “recreation” or “use”. In addition, 12 states specifically mention economic importance of fish and wildlife withe the terms “economic”, “commercial”, “equitable use” and “work”.
Save the Habitat, Save the Wildlife
No question that all 50 State Wildlife Agencies understand the importance of protecting ecosystems and habitats in order to insure the long-term survival of wildlife species, but only 21 states specifically use these words (“habitat” or “ecosystem”) in their mission statements.
Non-recreational Human Benefits of Wildlife
We no longer consider consumption as the only benefit of fish and wildlife. It may be implied in some mission statements, but only two states (NV & OK) specifically mention the aesthetic value or natural beauty of our Natural Resources. Six states (IA, MA, MN, MT, NY & SD) recognize the importance of our Natural Resources for “quality of life”, “Social well being” or “human welfare” and six different states recognize the importance of Natural Resources for scientific and educational purposes.
Do Employees know the Mission?
As a former employee of a state wildlife agency, I used to carry a card in my wallet with our Mission Statement. Until I was given that card, I don’t know if our agency had a mission statement or not. While I was compiling each state’s mission statement in the table above, I had to contact several States because their mission statements were not easy to find. The employees I contacted didn’t know their mission statements either. Why not? Good question. I’m sure most state employees know the purpose of their particular job, but I’ll bet most don’t know the mission of their organization.