Editorial — A ‘Game’-Changing Move

Effective Jan. 1, the California Department of Fish and Game got an official name change, becoming the Department of Fish and Wildlife.            

The changeover was engineered to be “budget friendly,” requiring that any existing letterhead, signs, badges and other material bearing the old name continue being to be used, with new Department of Wildlife logo items to be added only as needed.            

The rationale behind the name change is a move to clarify the department’s mission as a management agency for all the state’s wildlife, not only animals that are hunted. According to a sponsor of the California Assembly bill that authorized the name change, newly elected Congressman Jared Huffman, the old name is “outdated,” as only 12 states still use the word “game” in their wildlife agency names.            

According to a statement on the DFW website (which is still at dfg.ca.gov), “At the direction of Assembly Bill 2402 (Huffman) and Gov. Jerry Brown, the name of the California Department of Fish and Game has been changed to the ‘California Department of Fish and Wildlife’ as of Jan. 1, 2013. Our mission has not changed. Updating all references to reflect the department’s new name will require some time, so we appreciate your understanding during this transition.”            

The name change does not change the department’s mission to not only regulate hunting and fishing, but also to “manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.” However, advocates of hunting and the environment were both quick to weigh in on the decision.            

The Humane Society applauded the move as one of California’s legislative actions that are “reinforcing California’s standing as a national leader in animal protection.” Meanwhile, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance’s spokesman Mike Faw told the Associated Press that the name change will probably bring “a shift toward butterflies, endangered species and other stuff like that.”            

So, what’s in a name? Only time will tell.

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