One hundred years ago, the Delaware Board of Game and Fish Commisioners was created. Today, state leaders looked back at the history of wildlife conservation in the state, while looking ahead to challenges in the future.
The commission was formed in October 1911 by Delaware Governor Simeon Pennewill. At that time, the commission was charged in part with protecting the ability of state residents to hunt and fish, but what a difference a century makes.
“I certainly wonder what Governor Pennewill might have been imaging one hundred years ago when he appointed the first Delaware Game and Fish Commission,” said Governor Jack Markell during the 100 year anniversary celebration held at the DuPont Environmental Education Center in Wilmington. “When you think about all that has happened whether he could have imagined then what it would be like today.”
Over the past 100 years, the commission became the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife with a mission to protect Delaware’s wildlife and enhance the ability of residents and visitors to enjoy the natural state of the First State. “We’ve got a lot to celebrate here in Delaware looking back over these 100 years,” said Markell. “We’ve got an awful lot to look forward to as well.”
Looking ahead, the state’s conservation priorities include restoring bobwhite quail, shorebirds, weakfish, oysters and other species. Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary Collin O’Mara says the state’s environment is facing an assault. “We try to make sure we’re fighting against various other invasive species, and whether that’s flora or fauna, trying to make sure we’re making those investments.” O’Mara quoted from Dr. Suess’s environmentalist fable The Lorax, “The Lorax kind of ends with the words ‘unless.’ ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.'” He says the state’s been fortunate to have people who care ‘an awful lot’ over the past hundred years, and the challenge is to keep that going.
The celebration ended with the ceremonial planting of a native Delaware sycamore tree outside the education center. The tree is the 100th to be planted at the site in commemeration of the anniversary.