WILMINGTON — Wildlife Officer Matt Roberts recently spoke to the Wilmington Rotary Club which meets at noon about his work and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife.
Officer Roberts, originally from Greenfield, is a graduate of Hocking College with a degree in Forestry and Wildlife Management. He currently serves as the wildlife officer for Clinton County.
He stated that there is only one officer per county but they do assist in other counties as needed. Roberts has full police power but generally only exercises this authority in connection with his wildlife position.
The Division of Wildlife is a direct descendant of the Ohio Fish Commission, which was created by the General Assembly in 1873 to deal with declining fish populations in Ohio’s inland lakes and streams. In 1949 the Division was joined with other state conservation agencies under the mantle of the newly created Department of Natural Resources. By that time the original Fish Commission’s duties had expanded to include law enforcement, fish and wildlife management, propagation, research, stream improvement, and pollution investigation.
The job has continued to grow. In 1968 the Division became responsible for enforcing Ohio’s stream litter law. Its mission was broadened enormously in 1973 by the statutory addition of several hundred more species of wild animals to its care, and two years later by the legal mandate to identify, manage, and protect all endangered species in Ohio.
Division of Wildlife projects are carried out by a team of nearly 500 trained personnel. Moneys from Ohio sportsmen and women provide 95 of every 100 dollars which pay for all these activities. The Division faces many challenges in the pursuit of its goal to ensure an abundance of high quality wildlife experiences for today’s Ohioans and for future generations.