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ODWC Director Resigns, Interim Director Appointed


Today, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Director J.D. Strong resigned effective immediately. The decision was accepted unanimously by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, the agency’s advisory, administrative and policy-making body.

Strong was the Department’s 18th Director and had served as Director since 2016. ODWC Assistant Director Wade Free was named Interim Director by the Commission.

 "On behalf of The Commission and the ODWC Staff, I announce that we have accepted the resignation of our Director, J.D. Strong, effective immediately. 

We greatly appreciate the past seven years of leadership and service that J.D. has provided during his tenure with the Department of Wildlife Conservation, and we wish he and his family all of the very best in their future endeavors.

The Commission has every confidence in our amazing Team at the ODWC that we will continue the important work on behalf of the great citizens of Oklahoma in our successful stewardship of responsible management of our wildlife and fish resources and public lands/waters within our State as we move into this next chapter." 

-- Leigh Gaddis, Chairwoman, Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission 

"After much prayer, and after more than 31 years of state service, I have decided to step down as Director of the ODWC, effective immediately.

This decision is bittersweet. I have loved every minute of working alongside the wonderful people that comprise the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, watching them passionately and skillfully nurture a better environment for our fish and wildlife, and for the Oklahomans who get to enjoy them. Our state is unquestionably better because of ODWC's dedicated team of professionals, and I thank them for the privilege of working alongside them for these past seven years.

Having been ODWC Director for the past seven years, I'm extremely proud of what we have accomplished together. As with previous exits, I've always tried to leave with no regrets, as well as to leave the woodpile higher than I found it. My hope and belief are this is the case here.

I still have many productive years ahead of me and want to take advantage of a couple of exciting new opportunities in the works.

I have no doubt that ODWC's future is bright, and I will be cheering for the continued success of the Department every step of the way."-- J.D. Strong, Former Director of ODWC 

About the Commission 

An eight-member Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, serves in an unpaid capacity as the Department's advisory, administrative and policy-making body. The Commission governs all Department operations and financial transactions. It oversees land and equipment purchases, wildlife management areas, and fish hatcheries, plus the state's hunting and fishing regulations. The Commission appoints the Department's Director.

 About the Wildlife Department 

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) is the state agency responsible for managing fish and wildlife resources and habitats. ODWC issues hunting, fishing, and other recreational licenses, informs Oklahoma citizens about Department programs, policies, and regulations, provides education programs for children, teachers, and other adults, enforces wildlife laws, and manages the state's wildlife and fisheries resources. 

ODWC receives no general state tax appropriations and is funded by sportsmen and women through their purchase of hunting and fishing licenses as well as from federal Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program grants that are a direct result of outdoor enthusiasts who purchase firearms, ammunition, fishing equipment and motor boat fuel.