Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
|Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency|
|Preceding agency||Tennessee Game and Fish Commission|
|Annual budget||85.6 million USD|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Operations jurisdiction*||State of Tennessee, United States|
|Legal jurisdiction||State of Tennessee|
|Governing body||Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission|
|Headquarters||Ellington Agricultural Center, Nashville, Tennessee|
|Regions||I (Jackson), II (Nashville), III (Crossville) and IV (Morristown)|
|Patrol cars||GMC, Ford and Dodge Light trucks and SUVs|
|Boats||Various patrol and utility craft|
|Planes||Partenavia, P68 Observer 2; Tail Number: N76TW|
|* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.|
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is an independent state agency of the state of Tennessee with the mission of managing the state's fish and wildlife and their habitats, as well as responsibility for all wildlife-related law enforcement activities. The agency also has responsibility for fostering the safe use of the state's waters through a program of law enforcement, education, and access.
The TWRA is engaged in hunter education and training through the Tennessee Hunter Education Program and firearms safety and competitive shooting programs through the Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program.
History and organization
The role of the TWRA was originally handled by various state agencies and departments until 1949, when the Tennessee Game and Fish Commission was set up as an independent agency. In 1974, the Game and Fish Commission was reorganized as the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
The TWRA is governed by the 13-member Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission, whose members are citizens appointed by the governor, the speaker of the state house, and the speaker of the state senate.
Each county in the state is assigned at least one uniformed TWRA officer. The state is divided into four administrative regions, with offices in Jackson, Nashville (also the location of the headquarters), Crossville and Morristown. Each region is itself divided into a number of law enforcement areas (typically three), headed by a law enforcement supervisor and an assistant supervisor that oversee and coordinate the activities of the officers in their area.
TWRA officers are tasked with enforcing state and federal game and non-game wildlife regulations, including hunting, fishing and trapping. The TWRA is also responsible for enforcing all boating laws (such as patrolling for intoxicated boaters, checking for correct boat registration, and enforcement of safety regulations) and maintaining public boat access areas.
Although TWRA officers concentrate on wildlife-related law enforcement and rarely are called to enforce other laws, they carry not only state-level commissions, but commissions granted by the federal government as well, giving them the ability and responsibility to enforce all state, local, and federal codes.
Conservation and other activities
The TWRA takes an active role in wildlife and fisheries conservation and the reintroduction of wildlife that were driven from an area due to human intervention. Recent conservation activities included the successful reintroduction of wild turkeys to West and Middle Tennessee, as well as a successful elk reintroduction program in East Tennessee. The TWRA manages over 215,000 acres (870 km2) of forested land for public hunting and wildlife research. The TWRA maintains a modern forensics laboratory at the University of Tennessee, Martin that includes state of the art DNA analysis equipment.
TWRA officers are often called to provide assistance in search and rescue operations, due to their extensive experience working in woodland environments. TWRA officers also are included in Department of Homeland Security training as first responders and anti-terrorism enforcement officials. TWRA officers were sent to the Gulf Coast to provide assistance to local law enforcement and rescue teams in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Tennessee Hunter Education Program
Since 1985, Tennessee has required completion of the Tennessee Hunter Education Program (THEP) as a prerequisite to obtaining a hunting permit in the state for all persons born on or after January 1, 1969. All hunters over the age of 10 are required to be in possession of a Hunter Education certificate while in the field, and those under 10 must be accompanied by an adult of at least 21 years of age who has completed the course and who must remain in a position to take immediate control of the hunting device.
The course is offered free of charge and consists of a minimum of 10 hours of classroom participation, although most courses generally last 12-16 hours. Students are then required to successfully pass a written examination and a live firing exercise. The course contains instruction on ethics, marksmanship, history of hunting and firearms, wildlife management and identification, laws, knowledge of firearms and ammunition, wilderness survival, emergency first aid, etc.
The THEP was established as a formal hunter education program in 1975. According to the TWRA, since its institution hunting and firearm related accidents in Tennessee have declined dramatically. Hunter safety certification via the THEP is recognized by all states, Canada and Mexico.
Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program
In 2001, the TWRA partnered with the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Tennessee Wildlife Federation to institute the Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program. This program is designed to provide elementary- to college-aged students in Tennessee with opportunities to compete in clay target shooting sports with their peers across the state. These programs are usually organized as school-endorsed athletic programs, however teams are also organized through 4-H clubs, Boy and Girl Scout Troops, or community groups. The program draws over 1,000 youth annually to the state championships.