Wildlife Dept. offices closed due to coronavirus concerns

  • Photo provided Signage by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation outline the rules for camping and parking areas including trash, sanitation and campfires.
    Photo provided Signage by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation outline the rules for camping and parking areas including trash, sanitation and campfires.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters in Oklahoma City and its field offices statewide closed to visitors on March 18 and will remain shuttered until further notice.

The closure is in response to the Governor’s emergency declaration and the need to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The headquarters and field offices, including the Paddlefish Research Center near Miami will also remain closed until further notice. In addition, scheduled public events through April 15 are being postponed. These include any physical hunter education classes, aquatic education sessions, and student shotgun and archery events.

There are no plans to limit turkey season, which opens April 6, and most controlled hunts will continue, but pre-hunt check-ins may be modified. Department employees will continue serving the sportsmen and sportswomen of Oklahoma by working remotely.  “We’re encouraging everyone to avoid the lines and get online,” said Department Director J.D. Strong.

“With our online licensing system in place, it makes it easy for everyone to get a needed license or conduct other business with the Wildlife Department on their computer or with the Go Outdoors Oklahoma mobile app.” Licenses and permits will continue to be sold online at license.GoOutdoorsOklahoma.com and at regular license vendors. Lifetime license applications also can be submitted and completed online.

Customers who experience difficulties online should call the Go Outdoors Help Desk toll-free at 833-721-1035. The Department’s License Desk can be reached directly at 405-521-3852 during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The free hunter education course and certification test are available as usual through the ODWC website, wildlifedepartment.com.

Employees also will continue to respond to inquiries on the Department’s normal public communication outlets including its Facebook page (www.facebook.com/OkWildlifeDept), email messages via the “Contact Us” link at www. wildlifedepartment.com, or via the main ODWC phone number at 405-521-3851. Game wardens will be in service across the state as usual. To contact a lo- cal game warden, consult the directory at www.wild- lifedepartment.com/law/ game-warden-directory.

Even as many schools, churches and offices are closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Strong reminds all Oklahomans that the great outdoors remain open as usual and more inviting than ever. March and April usually bring some excellent fishing opportunities, and turkey hunting is scheduled to kick off April 4 with the statewide youth season. “What better way is there to practice ‘social distancing’, as the health authorities recommend, than to seize the opportunity to get outside and enjoy Oklahoma’s natural resources,” Strong suggested.