COLUMBUS – Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz named Kendra Wecker as chief of the ODNR Division of Wildlife on Saturday, Jan. 19. Wecker brings more than 25 years of experience working for the division building programs and partnerships that have helped shape Ohio’s conservation efforts. She becomes the first female Chief of the Division of Wildlife and will begin her assignment on Sunday, Jan. 20.
Wecker has advised numerous ODNR Division of Wildlife chiefs and other senior staff on legislative issues for all aspects of hunting, fishing, trapping and shooting sports. She has worked on many large projects affecting Ohioans, including commercial fishing regulations, Sunday hunting and improved shooting ranges. She was instrumental in proposing legislation for the popular cardinal and bald eagle license plates, and in the creation of the Ohio Biodiversity Conservation Partnership as well as the popular Ohio Diversity Conference.
“I want Ohioans to experience and learn about Ohio’s great wildlife resources and have the opportunity to enjoy them with their families,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “Kendra’s history and knowledge working with our partners and wildlife legislative efforts will be instrumental in guiding the agency into the future.”
Former Division of Wildlife Chief Mike Miller will stay within ODNR as acting law enforcement administrator for Parks and Watercraft. Miller served the ODNR Division of Wildlife for a year and a half, helping to bolster law enforcement capabilities and create the multi-year and lifetime licenses for hunting and fishing.
As chief of the division, Wecker will be responsible for day-to-day operations, including issues related to wildlife law enforcement, fish and wildlife research and management, promoting and establishing regulations related to wildlife recreation including hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife watching, as well as the responsible management and investment of funds generated from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and related equipment.
Wecker was the Wildlife Diversity Coordinator for almost 20 years before becoming the Information & Education Executive Administrator in 2016. In both roles she worked with outside organizations on outdoor public education programs, advised multiple chiefs on important topics, managed research project budgets totaling over $1 million, and coordinated legislative issues for the division. During her tenure she has been the recipient of multiple awards, including Wildlife Conservationist of the Year from the League of Ohio Sportsmen. Since graduating from Ohio State University, protecting the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers has always been a top priority for Wecker. She enjoys camping, fishing, and hunting with her family.