A Look at the MDWFP

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The Mississippi State Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks dates back to 1932 and this year celebrate their 80th anniversary.
Founded originally as the Game and Fish Commission, it was merged in 1989 with the State Bureau of Parks and the current MDWFP was formed.
The fact that 90% of the agency's budget comes from hunting and fishing license sales, permit and registration fees, and federal grants from excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment and not from state taxes, makes the program all the more unique.
The MDWFP is split into six different departments: Law Enforcement, Freshwater Fisheries, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (MMNS), State Parks, Support Services, and Wildlife.
Law Enforcement Over 213 conservation officers are the agency's most vital tool and have the most interaction with the public.
This may seem like many officers but there is only one of these green-uniformed personnel for every 14,000 Mississippians.
They are so sparse that they are often referred to as "The Thin Green Line.
" These officers are state law enforcement officers on the same legal standing as the troopers of the Mississippi Highway Patrol, agents of the Mississippi State Bureau of Investigation, and the of the marine patrol officers of the DMR.
Often derided as 'possum police' or 'deer detectives' these officers have the unenviable task of investigating often heavily armed poachers and illegal hunters at all hours and in all environments.
Their average salary is $28,900.
Special Operations Agents, the Green Berets of the MDWFP, conduct high-risk operations and investigations against poaching rings and those of conduct illegal operations such as marijuana cultivation on state lands.
MDWFP Conservation officers attend the State Law Enforcement Officer's Training Academy in Pearl, MS alongside other state, county, and municipal law enforcement officers and are certified to conduct investigations and make arrests anywhere in the state.
Typically just to qualify as a cadet for the MDWFP's conservation officer program, a candidate has to have completed 64-hours of college credit, and have five years of law enforcement experience already, making them some of the highest trained and qualified peace officers in the state.
Besides this traditional law enforcement, these officers also are charged with delivering the Boating Safety and Hunter's Safety to thousands of new hunters across the state every year.
They also stand ready to respond to emergency incidents throughout the state such as hurricanes along the Gulf Coast and the recent spate of tornados in northern Mississippi.
Freshwater Fisheries A little-known part of the MDWFP is the fisheries management program.
A small army of field workers and biologists conducts research and surveys across the states 4,000 miles of streams and 282,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs to oversee the Magnolia state's huge stock of freshwater fish.
To help improve the state's fishing stocks they manage three fish hatcheries besides setting limits and restrictions on areas with limited populations.
The state has been credited with stabilizing and reintroducing populations of walleye and striped bass back into local ponds and streams.
If you have ever used a boat ramp on public land in the state to access to lakes, rivers, and streams statewide, odds are it was built by MDWFP.
State Parks, Support Services, and Wildlife A force of wildlife biologists, field technicians, timber managers and others help track and monitor the state's natural assets ranging from stands of loblolly pines to the numbers of black bear.
For over eight decades, the agency has acquired public lands to preserve for the benefit of future generations, using the land to help restore once-threatened deer, duck, alligator, and turkey populations.
The agency current maintains 3 regional offices, 25 State Parks, and 50 Wildlife Management Areas, and will continue to do so in perpetuity.
That's over 665,000 acres of land in the WMAs alone-- about the same size as the country of Luxembourg.
(Please note that Luxembourg has an 890-man Army complete with TOW anti-tank missiles and 105mm artillery and you see just how narrow Mississippi's Thin Green Line is!) Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (MMNS) One of the premier museums in the State, the MMNS is a state of the art 73,000-squre foot facility in Jackson that displays wildlife in all forms.
From prehistoric fossils to huge collections of mounts and live animals, the museum is a must-see for any nature enthusiast.
Their 100,000-gallon aquarium system offers one of the best looks at Mississippi fresh and saltwater fish in the world and includes many exotic, rare and endangered species found only in this state.
"Our eighty year success story in conservation is the result of the continued support of sportsmen and women who purchase privilege licenses annually.
With their help, we have witnessed one of the most remarkable conservation restoration efforts in this country," said MDWFP Executive Director, Dr.
Sam Polles, on the agency's 80th anniversary.
Take that Luxembourg!
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