AUSTIN – Numerous Texas game wardens came to the state Capitol Thursday to mark Texas Game Warden Day and 120 years of service to the state. The day was designated by legislative passage of House Resolution 471 by Rep. Kyle Kacal of Austin.
The measure notes that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens trace their beginning to 1895, when the office of Fish and Oyster Commissioner was created by the 24th Legislature. Four years later, in 1899, the Legislature gave game wardens jurisdiction of all public waters, including freshwater streams, lakes, and ponds. Soon, game wardens had jurisdiction over shrimping and hunting.
As the resolution notes, “The name of the agency later became the Game, Fish, and Oyster Commission, and it changed again several times to reflect the expansion of its mission until, in 1963, it merged with the State Parks Board to form the current agency….”
In 1919, there were only six wardens, but their numbers grew as their duties continued to evolve, encompassing such tasks as the promotion of recreational water safety and the apprehension of criminals involved in a range of illegal activities in addition to wildlife law violations.
The legislature formally recognized game wardens as state peace officers in 1971. Today, TPWD has some 530 game wardens whose responsibilities have grown to include participation in homeland security initiatives on the state’s border with Mexico in addition to their traditional duties.
“For well over a century, game wardens have enforced natural resource conservation laws in the Lone Star State, and their vital contributions have earned the deep appreciation of all Texans,” the resolution said.