Oklahoma Legislature Takes First Steps Toward Throwing State Agency, and Sportsmen, a Bone

Contact: Kent Keene; Senior Coordinator, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • On March 10, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed House Bill (HB) 2214 which would transfer authority to Oklahoma’s hunting and fishing license structure and fees from the Oklahoma Legislature to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission (Commission).
  • The next day, the Oklahoma Senate passed Senate Bill (SB) 774 which would similarly grant license authority to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, albeit without a title. The title will need to be restored before SB 774 can officially pass the legislature.
  • HB 2214 and SB 774 have been a priority for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), and several mission partners for years.
  • Authority over the state’s hunting and fishing licenses would allow ODWC to create a system that is tailored to meet the needs of the state’s hunters, anglers, and trappers while generating critical conservation funding through the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF).

Why it Matters: Granting license and fee authority to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission would allow the agency charged with managing Oklahoma’s fish and wildlife resources the ability to simplify the current complicated system of licenses and permits to best suit the needs of the Sooner State’s sportsmen and women who, in turn, generate the bulk of the funding for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. With both bills passing their chamber of origin in slightly different forms, all eyes are on the Oklahoma Legislature as we await further action.

While some of you may have never attempted to purchase a hunting or fishing license in Oklahoma, those who have understand how burdensome it has become. With over 150 different licenses, permits, and stamps to choose from, trying to hunt or fish in the Sooner State can be, to put it lightly, a challenge. However, this is what can happen when authority over a state’s hunting and fishing license structure is vested in the state legislature, rather than the state’s fish and wildlife management agency.

Fortunately, the Oklahoma Legislature is taking steps to correct this issue. On March 10, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed HB 2214 which would grant authority over Oklahoma’s hunting and angling licenses, permits, and stamps – as well as their associated fees – to the Commission. The very next day, the Oklahoma Senate passed a similar bill, SB 774, and each bill now awaits further action in its second chamber. At the end of the day, both bills will allow the ODWC and the Commission to overhaul and simplify the Sooner State’s license structure.

For a state with such a strong outdoor heritage, and an agency that is almost entirely funded through the American System of Conservation Funding, this is critical as ODWC seeks to balance the needs of its primary customer base (sportsmen and women) and the increased costs associated with wildlife conservation in the United States. HB 2214 and SB 774 also set the stage for a 365-day license, a popular option in other states.

CSF and partners have worked closely with ODWC and members of the Oklahoma Legislature to push HB 2214 and SB 774 through the process. Ahead of SB 774’s first hearing in the Oklahoma Senate’s Agriculture and Wildlife Committee, CSF and several mission partners submitted a letter of support. Though some amendments have been added that will require further deliberation before these bills cross the finish line, CSF will continue to advocate for HB 2214 and SB 774 on behalf of the Sooner State’s sportsmen and women.

States Involved

Share this page

Your opinion counts

Recently, two Montana state representatives have proposed more aggressive legislation addressing the state's gray wolf population. These bills range from the addition of a wolf tag into big game combination tags, to year-round sanctioned harvest without a license, use of snare traps, and private reimbursement of wolf harvest. Currently, the wolf population in Montana sits at 850 wolves, which is 700 over the state’s minimum recovery goal of 150 wolves. Which of the below options for wolf management do you support? (Select all that apply)

Vote Here
Get Involved

We work hard to educate elected officials about issues important to you, but we can't do it alone. Find out how you can get involved and support CSF.

Read More