Laws 1881, Chapter 66 created the Commissioners of Fisheries. They were replaced in 1912 by the State Game Warden under Laws 1912, Chapter 82. Laws 1929, Chapter 84 established the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. Laws 1958, Chapter 80 made the Commission the administrator of the Game and Fish Department. Statutory authority is found at A.R.S. §17-101 et seq.
The Commission has a wide range of duties and oversight responsibilities set forth in statute. Those responsibilities include creating both broad policies and specific rules for managing, preserving and harvesting wildlife in Arizona. The Commission also regulates the sale, trade, importation, exportation, and possession of wildlife; creates and maintains facilities (game farms, fish hatcheries, etc.) related to preserving or propagating wildlife; and supervises public firing ranges. Commissioners are appointed to five-year terms and must be Arizona residents of at least five years standing.
The territorial Commissioners of Fisheries was established in 1881 and consisted of three officers appointed by the governor. One officer was designated business agent for the board. In 1912, the State Game Warden was appointed by the governor. In 1929 the Game and Fish Commission was created. Members were required to be well informed on wildlife and conservation of animals, birds, and fish. The Commission appointed a state game and fish warden who was secretary to the Commission and who appointed deputy wardens, each in a different area of the state. The 1958 amendments increased membership of the Commission to five and replaced the State Game Warden with the director of the Game and Fish Department. Laws 2010, Chapter 22 provided additional guidance in selecting commissioners, enacting requirements to ensure board members come from a variety of backgrounds and organizations, including one from a nongame organization.
1881 Duties of the Commissioners of Fisheries included keeping minutes of the proceedings of the Board including a detailed list of expenditures; collecting and presenting statistics; preparing annual reports for the governor which included recommendations for legislative actions to promote the cultivation and increase of food fish in Arizona. Other duties included securing the allotted quota of fish stock or fry (juvenile fish) from the U.S. Commissioners of Fisheries; to purchase or procure fry of species deemed desirable in Arizona; to plant fry in the best area for success; and to make investigations on fish culture.
1912 The State Game Warden extended the duties of the Commissioners to include issuing hunting licenses or designating those authorized to issue them and revoking or renewing licenses; instituting the prosecution of violators of Laws 1912, Chapter 82; enforcing fish and game laws; issuing permits to capture, kill and/or transport wildlife for scientific or propagating purposes; redeeming of young animals for the purpose of saving their lives; keeping a record of monies received and all licenses, certificates, permits, and tags issued; and overseeing the game protection fund.
1929 Duties of the Game and Fish Commission expanded these responsibilities even further to include making rules and regulations and establishing services as necessary to carry out its provisions under Chapter 84; managing propagation and distribution of wild birds, animals, and fish; enforcing all laws for wildlife protection; changing in any way it deems necessary the limits in time or number the hunting and/or fishing sessions and game limits; establishing refuges; and closing any area to hunting or fishing. At the end of each calendar year, each officer who issues licenses must forward all license stubs issued that year and a report of monies to the Commission.
1958 Since 1958, the duties of the Commission have expanded to include the authority to appoint a director of the Game and Fish Department, establish a volunteer group called the Arizona Game and Fish Department Reserve, bring a suit for the state against any person, corporation, or agency endangering wildlife by polluting water; enter into agreements with other states or the federal government; and produce wildlife publications.
2001-2011 Several additional responsibilities and duties were added in the new millenium. Laws 2001, Chapter 231 required the Commission to cooperate with the Arizona-Mexico Commission, as well as the university researchers associated with it. Similarly, Laws 2005, Chapter 78 authorized the Commission to enter into agreements related to participation in the Lower Colorado River Multispecies Conservation Program. In 2011, the Game and Fish Commission was authorized to adopt rules related to operating public shooting ranges (Laws 2011, Chapter 276).
- Laws 1881, Chapter 66
- Laws 1912, Chapter 82
- Laws 1929, Chapter 84
- Laws 1958, Chapter 80
- Laws 2001, Chapter 231
- Laws 2005, Chapter 78
- Laws 2010, Chapter 22
- Laws 2011, Chapter 276
- A.R.S. Title 17