California Fish and Game Commission celebrated its 150th birthday in April

SACRAMENTO—Lost amidst the Coronavirus pandemic was a landmark “birthday” for the California Fish and Game Commission, which happens to be one of the state’s oldest agencies.

The Fish and Game Commission turned 150 on April 6. The commission was born in April 1850 as the California Board of Fish Commissioners. California, interestingly enough, became a state on Sept. 9, 1850 – more than five months after the commission was created.

State historians said California already had several fish and game laws in place, courtesy of the Mexican and Spanish regimes in place in the years leading up to California’s transfer to the United States.

The first fish and game law with California being a state was enacted in 1851 and regulated oysters. Laws about salmon, waterfowl and other wildlife were adopted in 1852.

The latter years of the 1800s saw the establishment of deputies (1871) and the Bureau of Patrol and Law Enforcement (1883).

A separate Fish and Game Code was established in 1993; fish and game laws were governed by the Penal Code up to this point in history.

When did the agency finally change its name and become the California Fish and Game Commission? That happened in 1909. The commission’s membership was expanded from three to five in 1937.

Sportfishing and hunting regulation became part of the commission’s core responsibilities in 1945.

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