Working for Wildlife

The “good old days” of being a hunter in Virginia are today!

The landscape looked very different in the early part the 20th century. Large game animal populations were decimated. Whitetail deer were rarely seen, and no deer were killed in most Virginia counties in 1922—a total of 630 were harvested in the entire Commonwealth that year! Take a look at the harvest numbers for your county in 1922. The passenger pigeon, a bird that flew in flocks so large it was said they “blackened the sky” had recently gone extinct due to over-hunting and habitat loss from deforestation. There were few laws of any kind protecting wildlife.

One hundred years ago, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) was created to “ensure optimum populations” of all species and provide safe experiences while afield. We have had our successes over the years—such as the amazing rebound of deer, bear, and turkey populations we enjoy today. We have had our failures too—like attempts to stock pheasants at our “pheasant farm,” which never panned out.

Today, the VDGIF has just as important a role to play as we did in the 1920s. We have recently reintroduced the elk—a native Virginia species—to Buchanan County in southwest Virginia. Dedicated biologists work to restore quail habitat and bolster the beloved gamebird. We work to understand the complete picture of species with the greatest need in the Wildlife Action Plan. From 1916 to 2016, our mission has grown and expanded. From bluebirds to the black bears, golden eagles to spotted salamanders, working for wildlife is what we at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries still do today—from the conservation police officers who enforce wildlife laws, to the biologist and the outreach staff who work to bring you wildlife information. There are 425 of us across Virginia, and we are all proud of our legacy and our mission!

Virginia Game Harvest Data: 1922–1923

(click to enlarge)

Harvest Data: 1922–1923

  • February 25, 2016