Dec 20, 2014, 4:26
Mississippi Game Warden Shortage Drastic

Mississippi Game Warden Shortage Drastic

Monday, 01 December 2014 00:00

Mississippi’s shortage of state troopers has received much attention over the last year, but a shortage of conservation officers — game wardens, as they used to be known — is also drastic and likely to get worse.

“If we were to place the 22 cadets we have in training into the field today, we would still be 43 officers short,” said state House Wildlife Fisheries and Parks Chairman C. Scott Bounds, R-Philadelphia. “We have 37 counties with only one officer and two counties with no officer.

“They are expecting three retirements on Dec. 31, and about a third of the force is eligible for retirement,” Bounds said.

Sen. Giles Ward, chairman the Senate Wildlife Committee, said the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks is “woefully understaffed” even after lawmakers early this year approved $2.7 million to add 22 officers, now in training.

“It is reassuring to know the governor is mindful enough of the problem to give it a sidebar in his budget,” Ward said.

Gov. Phil Bryant in his budget proposal to the 2015 Legislature did not include spending for MDWFP to add more officers, but in the narrative of the proposal, he said he would support such a measure “should additional funds become available.”

Bounds said, “We need to be proactive instead of reactive, not get to the point where we are short 50 officers, then graduate a class a year later. We need to keep smaller classes going all the time and have some kind of funding procedure in place.”

Montana Game Warden Lou Kis

Grizzly Bear Attack Caught On Camera

Wednesday, 05 November 2014 00:00

A standard relocation of a grizzly bear into the wild suddenly became a dangerous situation for a photographer and Montana game warden.

Photographer Richard Smith took pictures of the 1987 debacle that left Montana game warden Lou Kis with a fractured and bitten leg, according to Field and Stream.

"I programmed myself to continue holding shutter down to capture whatever action took place," said Smith, who went along with Kis for the trip.

The bear escaped Kis' trap, situated in the back of a pickup truck, after the wildlife official raised the door so the animal could go back into the wilderness, despite there being a dent in the opening.

Bears typically sprint off into the wild as soon as they are let out of their trap, but the one involved this time around gave Kis a run for his money until he was eventually able to kill the furry creature with a .357 magnum handgun.

View Photos

Wyoming Poachers To Pay Over $30,000 In Fines For Mule Deer Harvest

Wyoming Poachers To Pay Over $30,000 In Fines For Mule Deer Harvest

Sunday, 02 November 2014 00:00

(Laramie, Wyo.) – A tip to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Stop Poaching Hotline helped wildlife investigators apprehend a Chugwater man on multiple counts of taking big game animals without licenses.

Cheyenne Game Warden David Ellsworth said the tip lead investigators to a social media site where 47-year-old John Clark had posted photos of the animals he shot, including a photo of a buck antelope that he said was his “first antelope with a bow.”

 Further investigation revealed Clark, who lived in Rock River at the time, never purchased a hunting license for at least six big game animals that he killed between 2010 and 2013.  Investigators obtained a search warrant for Clark’s residence that lead to the discovery of antlers and horns from the poached animals. They also discovered a pelt from a swift fox and talons from great horned owls and golden eagles.

During the investigation, Clark admitted to shooting a mule deer buck each year from 2010 to 2013, all without a license. When presented with the social media photograph of his “first antelope with a bow,” he admitted that he had also shot that buck without a license in 2012. He then confessed to taking an additional buck antelope in 2010 and another in 2012.

Clark was charged with four counts of taking mule deer without a license; two counts of taking antelope without a license; illegal possession of elk meat; and two counts of illegal possession of mule deer meat. He was also issued warnings for illegal possession of raptor parts, and for theft/removal of a Game and Fish Department “road closed” sign. The Game and Fish Department did not take action on charges of trapping without a license, illegal take of a swift fox, or an over limit of trout that was also discovered during the investigation.

Albany Circuit Court Judge Honorable Robert A. Castor ordered Clark to pay $30,240 in fines and suspended his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for 36 years. Four charges of illegal game possession were dismissed by the prosecution.

Ellsworth thanked the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensics Laboratory for their help in identifying the species and gender of the game meat found in Clark’s possession during the investigation and the Albany County Attorney’s Office for their work on the case.

Ellsworth said this case demonstrates the importance of poaching reports from the public.  “This whole investigation got started with a Stop Poaching tip. It stresses how important it is for members of the public to contact us if they have any information about possible poaching crimes,” he said.

- Provided by Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Drunk Driver Pleads Guilty To Manslaughter In Conservation Officer'S Death

Friday, 19 December 2014 00:00

The man who killed a 23-year-old Saskatchewan conservation officer while driving drunk has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2013 collision.

Blaine Thomas Taypotat, 35, appeared Thursday in Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench, where he also pleaded guilty to drunk driving causing death.

Conservation officer Justin Knackstedt died after he was struck by an SUV on May 31, 2013, while helping RCMP direct traffic at the site of a prior collision south of Saskatoon.

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Expanded Powers For Manitoba Conservation Officers

Monday, 01 December 2014 00:00


Don’t call them natural resource officers anymore.

The Manitoba government introduced legislation today that would formally recognize conservation officers as law enforcement officers with the powers of peace officers.

Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh said the legislative change would end any ambiguity in law of the role of conservation officers in law enforcement. Manitoba has had resource officers since the 1940s, but the group has not had formal legislation to confirm their authorities, function and mandate.

The change would also formally change the designation to conservation officers from natural resource officers.

Conservation officers enforce all legislation relating to wildlife, forestry, parks, Crown lands and wildfires. They also arrest poachers, issue summonses, conduct investigations and testify in court.

The new act would also see training and qualifications meet legislated standards and include provisions for establishing a complaints process.

Mackintosh said in a statement the legislation would also clarify that conservation officers would have enforcement authority to deal with criminal matters that may arise in the course of carrying out their duties.

Conservation officers have carried sidearms since 1998.


It'S Not Easy Wearing Green In New Brunswick'S Forests

Tuesday, 30 September 2014 00:00


I ran into a conservation officer one day during a moose-scouting expedition, and he took a break from his duties for a bit of a chat.    Moose season is a busy time for New Brunswick conservation officers. After all, there aren't as many as there used to be,and their workloads are only going up at the same time that their numbers are going down.   

A few years ago the province divided our wardens into two groups: conservation officers (the guys who enforce game laws) and forest rangers (who take care of the trees, both live and dead ones). Let's pretend that there are 50 actual enforcement officers (I have no idea how many these days. I pulled that number out of my hat). That doesn't mean there are 50 in the woods at any given time. At any point in time, some conservation officers will be on holidays or doing paper work, in court, serving documents, off sick, enjoying a day off in lieu of overtime,taking a language course, having their computerized trucks fixed, learning how to work those newfangled computers in their trucks, or whatever.    It ain't easy wearing green.