At the stroke of midnight, the California agency that regulates hunting and fishing will have a new name: the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The name change is required by AB 2402, a law written by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and signed by the governor in September. The aim is to more closely mirror the agency's obligation to safeguard the environment, not just critters targeted by anglers and hunters.
"Our mission's not changing," said department spokesman Mike Taugher. "I think it's fair to say the new name is reflective of our responsibilities as they have evolved over time."
The name change takes effect Jan. 1, and the department website will be www.wildlife.ca.gov.
The switch to new uniforms, letterhead, vehicle logos and all the other paraphernalia of a government agency will take more time - perhaps as long as a year. These will be replaced only as they wear out or run out.
The Legislature estimated transition costs of as much as $300,000, and no money was appropriated for it. Taugher said the agency estimates final costs will be slightly more.
California game wardens, the badge-wearing peace officers who enforce many environmental laws, will now be known as "wildlife officers." This change is controversial among some traditionalists in the department, though the title is common in other states.