About the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

The Mission of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is to preserve, conserve, manage, protect, and enhance the fish and wildlife of the state and their habitats for the use, benefit, and enjoyment of the citizens of Tennessee and its visitors. The Agency will foster the safe use of the state's waters through a program of law enforcement, education, and access.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has come a long way since it was established in 1949 and was called the Game and Fish Commission. Completely reorganized in 1974, it now consists of more than 600 professionals dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and enhancement of Tennessee's fish and wildlife for the enjoyment of all Tennesseans and our visitors.

Directed by a 13-member commission of private citizens appointed by the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, and the speaker of the senate, the TWRA is unique among state agencies. Unlike most departments, which are supported by tax revenues, the TWRA is funded largely through the monies generated by licenses and permits purchased by hunters, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Yet the Agency plays a major, though often unseen, role in the life of every Tennessean.

With four regional offices strategically located to serve the western, middle, plateau, and eastern portion of the state, the TWRA's responsibilities are many and varied: wildlife officers educate boaters and young hunters as well as enforce the hunting, fishing, and boating laws; biologists and foresters manage the state's rich diversity of woods and waters and our game and nongame wildlife.

Our specialists conduct wildlife and aquatic education workshops, protect the state's vital wetlands; monitor water quality; and preserve the state's disappearing wildlife species. Our engineers construct boat ramps and docks for the boating and fishing public, while other professionals create accurate, updated maps of Agency-managed properties through a state-of-the-art computer imaging system. Still others sell hunting, fishing, and additional special wildlife recreational licenses; maintain records of the state's increasing number of registered boats; produce the Tennessee Wildlife magazine, and much, much more.

If you love outdoor sports - boating, hunting, fishing - and the natural world or if you just like to observe wildlife, build birdhouses, maintain a bird feeder or are just curious about the critters in your backyard - the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is here to help enrich your outdoor experience.

Do you know how the TWRA and other wildlife agencies are funded?

Unlike most Tennessee State Agencies and Departments, which are supported by Tennessee State Sales Tax Revenues, the TWRA is funded largely through the monies generated by licenses and permits purchased by hunters, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.


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Hunter and angler license purchases are not the only users contributing to conservation funding.

The sale of shooting sports equipment, like guns and ammo, helps fund it as well and plays a big part. 

Did you know…

  • Only about a quarter (24%) of shooters know their state fish and wildlife agency builds and maintains public shooting ranges
  • Only 21% of shooter/gun owners are aware that the state fish and wildlife agency builds and maintains public shooting ranges.
  • About a third of shooters/gun owners indicated that they knew of the federal excise tax.
    • In a recent survey, 34% indicated knowing about the tax. Although another 24% indicated that they might have heard about it, only the 34% above should be considered as really knowing about it, suggesting that 66% of shooters-owners do not know about the tax.

Purchase Your Hunt/Fish Combo License

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1.      Purchasing a license directly provides for future generations of hunters, anglers, and all those that enjoy wildlife. With more than 325 species of fish, 89 mammals, 61 reptiles, 70 amphibians, and 340+ birds known to inhabit or migrate through Tennessee, hunters, and anglers help provide for the care and management of these species for use and enjoyment by future generations.

2.      License dollars protect and provide for the use and long-term management of over 100 Wildlife Management Areas and Refuges and over one million acres across the state, 29 major reservoirs 19,000 miles of rivers and streams, and thousands of smaller lakes and ponds. Proper land management ensures habitat longevity for numerous species.

3.      Purchasing a license allows for the harvest of fish and game. With a resurgence in locally grown or harvested food, hunters and anglers can provide for themselves and their families throughout the year. There’s a great feeling when you know where your food comes from and be part of the process.

4.      Purchasing a hunting and fishing license creates time for family and friends. Anyone that has spent time fishing or hunting knows of the stories told around the dinner table. Memories are made by enjoying time and connecting with loved ones. There’s no better way than to sit shoulder to shoulder in the outdoors.

5.       Purchasing a hunting and fishing license keeps you healthy. We all know outdoor activities lower blood pressure and promote healthy lifestyles. Regardless if it’s time on the water, fishing from the bank or sitting in a blind, hunters and anglers know of the relaxing, healing qualities of nature.

6.      BONUS REASON! Pass on the legacy and knowledge. Knowledge of the weather, water, land, and wildlife is fading in the U.S. By teaching outdoor skills you are ensuring our heritage continues. Hunting and fishing skills empower and enlighten. Teaching ensures others will support and ensure. 


Interested in learning more? 

Check out the links below to explore TWRA programs, shooting ranges and licenses to see how you can be more involved in wildlife conservation and support the great state of Tennessee and its traditions.

Ranges: https://www.tn.gov/twra/hunting/firing-ranges.html

Hunter Ed: https://www.tn.gov/twra/hunting/hunter-education.html

Licenses: https://www.tn.gov/twra/license-sales.html#general

Events: https://license.gooutdoorstennessee.com/Event/EventsHome.aspx

TWRA Annual Report