The Washington Department
of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is dedicated to preserving,
protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and
wildlife resources. The department operates under a
dual mandate from the Washington Legislature to:
- Protect and enhance fish and wildlife and their
- Provide sustainable, fish- and wildlife-related
recreational and commercial opportunities.
Department policy is guided by the Washington
Fish and Wildlife Commission composed of nine citizen
members appointed by the Governor. Department operations
are led by a Director and an Executive Management Team. The Director is appointed
by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The department is headquartered in Olympia and operates
six regional offices throughout the state.
March 1890 - The first Fish Commissioner was James Crawford, appointed by Governor Elisha Ferry
1891 - State Legislature appropriated funds for a salmon hatchery.
1895 - The first salmon hatchery was built and dedicated in 1895 on the Kalama River.
1915 - Legislature passed a new Game and Game-Fish Code that provided for a Chief Game Warden and a Fish Commissioner
both managed under Chief Game Warden L. H. Darwin, Department of Fish and Game
1921 - Legislature abolished the Fish Commission and replaced it with a Department of Fisheries with a Division of
Fisheries and a Division of Game and Game Fish.
1932 - An initiative separated food fish and game fish and created a Department of Fisheries (food fish) under an
appointed Director and a Department of Game (game fish) under a six member commission.
1987 - Legislature changed Department of Game, with a Commission-appointed director, to Department of Wildlife with a
Director appointed by the Governor.
1994 - Legislature merged Department of Wildlife and Department of Fisheries, creating Department of Fish and Wildlife
(WDFW). WDFW has a 9-member Commission and the WDFW Director is appointed by the Commission.