California Department of Fish and Wildlife

History of California Game Wardens

Before California was admitted as the thirty-first state by the U.S. Congress on September 9, 1850 it had already had more than twenty years of Spanish and Mexican Fish and Game laws in place.

In 1851 the State of California enacted its first fish and game laws dealing with Oysters.

In 1852 more laws were enacted to protect specific species such as Elk, Antelope, Deer, Quail, Waterfowl and Salmon. At this time in History the task of enforcing such laws was the responsibility of the local authorities.

Some twenty-one years later in 1871 the first two recorded State Game Wardens or deputies as they were known then were appointed. One to patrol the San Francisco Bay and the other to patrol the Lake Tahoe area.

In 1883 the Board of Fish Commissioners (forerunners of the now known Fish and Game Commission) established the Bureau of Patrol and Law Enforcement.

In 1885 the state published it’s first set of Fish and Game laws and during that same year the first Fish and Game Marine patrol was instituted accompanied by a 46 foot vessel.

In 1901 the Game Warden forces reached to a total of fifty men.

In 1907 the Game Warden force expands to seventy-three

In 1933 A separate Fish and Game Code is enacted thus deleting fish and game laws from the Penal Code.

The Law Enforcement Division of the Department of Fish and Wildlife is proud to be the very first State Law Enforcement Agency enacted in California for over 124 years of service.

The role of a Game Warden has evolved with the times, with the men and woman serving to protect the life and property of it's citizens and those who visit and enjoy California's Resources.

To learn more about the ever changing job of a Game Warden click on the link for Warden Career Information or contact Lieutenant Laurie Knowles at (916) 653-7726 or by email.