History of Fish & Wildlife
Conservation of fish and wildlife resources has a rich history in Indiana that predates the Civil War.
In 1849, Greene County passed what is believed to be the state’s first conservation law, making it illegal to poison fish. Eight years later, the state instituted a closed season on the hunting of deer, wild turkey and other game birds. Other laws followed, including protection of songbirds in 1873 and season dates for the hunting of ducks and woodcock in 1877.
In 1881, the State Legislature created the Office of Commissioner of Fisheries, the first statewide office tasked with managing Indiana’s fish resources. Jurisdiction was extended to include game animals and birds in 1889,
1901 – Indiana’s first hunting license was established and sold for $1.
1913 – Fishing privileges were added to hunting license; still $1.
1919 – The Department of Conservation (DOC) was created with five divisions, including the Division of Fish & Game. The Division included 39 employees, with a goal to increase hunting opportunities through the purchase of land.
Shortly after the turn of the century, 3,000 conservation clubs in Indiana with a combined membership of more than 300,000 rallied the State Legislature into action to purchase land for wildlife. Properties such as the Brown County Game Preserve and the Jasper County Game Reservation were the direct results of these efforts.
In 1965, conservation took on a new look when the State Legislature passed the Natural Resources Act, creating the Department of Natural Resources that put the DOC and its Division of Fish & Game under the DNR umbrella.
Today, outdoor recreation enthusiasts of all ages enjoy hunting and fishing opportunities statewide with:
- 380 Public Access Sites
- 151,000 acres for wildlife management
- Over 100 Fish & Wildlife Areas and satellite properties
- 12 DFW operated shooting ranges
The quest for additional wildlife habitat is an ongoing process, thanks to the original efforts of Indiana’s conservation organizations. See how you can help.
Department of Natural Resources History
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Fish and Wildlife Sections
Fisheries Section Information
District biologists (six statewide)
Development and implementation of actions for better fishing
Inventory and assessment of public lakes and streams
Lake and River Enhancement (LARE)
Permits for aquatic vegetation, fish stocking, tournaments
Private waters consultation
Big Rivers (Joint jurisdiction with Illinois and Kentucky)
Inland lakes and streams
Lake Michigan (Joint jurisdiction with Illinois and Michigan)
Environmental Permitting and Technical Consultation
Public freshwater lakes (seawalls, beaches, other shoreline alterations)
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licenses and projects
Site acquisition, construction, and maintenance
Wildlife habitat projects
Construction assistance to properties
Eradication of Identified Invasives (Hydrilla, Brazilian Elodea, Parrotfeather)
Regional and national program coordination
Asian carp control
Fish kill response
Natural resource damage review/consultation
Participation in National Fish Habitat Action Plans
Permitting guidelines and science
Response to habitat issues and opportunities
Lake and River Enhancement (LARE)
Diagnostic and engineering feasibility studies, project design/construction
Watershed land treatment projects
Sediment removal from lakes
Invasive species control in lakes
Wildlife Section Information
Manage over 150,000 acres of wildlife habitat
Manage all Fish and Wildlife Areas
Manage FWAs for quality hunting, fishing, trapping, and recreational shooting opportunities
Provide technical and financial resources for wildlife habitat improvements on private landsDistrict Biologists (15 statewide)
Provide landowners with wildlife population management
Monitor game populations
Monitor wildlife diseases
Management and conservation of over 750 nongame and endangered species
- GoFishIN: Expose students to fishing.
- Hoosier Outdoor Heritage: To expose students and adults to nature and the outdoors
- Project WET: Water Education for Teachers
- Project WILD: Wildlife education
- Hoosier Outdoor Experience
Opened in 2006, the Fishin' Pond at the Indiana State Fairgrounds provides thousands of young visitors the opportunity to experience fishing; many for the first time in their life.
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Our mission is to professionally manage Indiana's fish and wildlife for present and future generations, balancing ecological, recreational, and economic benefits.
Indiana statute defines the authority and responsibilities of the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife:
The [Division of Fish & Wildlife] shall . . . provide for the protection, reproduction, care, management, survival and regulation of wild animal populations regardless of whether the wild animals are present on public or private property . . . [and] Organize and pursue a program of research and management of wild animals that will serve the best interests of the resources and the people of Indiana.
(Indiana Code Title 14, Article 22, Chapter 2, Section 3)
- Fish and wildlife resources belong to all the people of Indiana.
- Regulated hunting, fishing and trapping are important wildlife management tools.
- Professional management is essential to the long-term welfare of fish and wildlife resources.
- Fish and wildlife resources enrich the quality of human life.
- Fish and wildlife resources are renewable and when wisely managed will indefinitely provide numerous public benefits such as hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife viewing.
- Stewardship of fish and wildlife resources is a shared responsibility between resource managers and the citizens of Indiana.
- Public participation is essential for effective resource management.
- Regulated hunting, fishing and trapping are legitimate pursuits when conducted in fair chase.
- Hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife conservation are vital parts of our heritage.
- The mission and values of the Division of Fish & Wildlife provide a foundation for the following targets:
- Protect aquatic and terrestrial habitat for all wildlife species through initiatives such as land acquisition, conservation easements, reserve programs (Farm Bill), partnerships, improved land use and educational strategies.
- Use marketing strategies to increase the sale of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses, and to communicate and educate the public on the importance of fish and wildlife management and conservation programs.
- Increase the capabilities of the Wildlife Diversity Program commensurate with new federal funding opportunities.
- Develop solid, landscape-level biological information and use that information to communicate the importance of active management for all wildlife species.
- Improve opportunities for the hunting, fishing and trapping public to enjoy traditional pursuits.
- Establish protocols to address invasive species and wildlife disease issues.
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