The official first day of spring has many of us thinking about the warmer weather ahead and spending more time outdoors, so let’s take a look at a branch of law enforcement that is dedicated to conserving and protecting our parks, forests, waterways, recreation areas, and other outdoor spaces.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Census of Law Enforcement Agencies (2008), there are 246 natural resources law enforcement agencies in the U.S. employing nearly 15,000 full-time sworn personnel.
Natural Resource or Conservation Officers are fully certified law enforcement officers, but their jobs include unique duties that set them apart from other law enforcement positions:
- Fish and wildlife conservation – officers enforce a variety of environmental laws pertaining to pollution, fishing, poaching, and land and water usage.
- Law enforcement services for parks – officers provide a patrol presence in parks or conservation areas where they may check hunting, fishing, or boating permits; investigate accidents or crimes; and respond to the public’s questions and concerns.
- Search and Rescue – officers are trained on ground, water, and air searches and are on call to respond should a person go missing.
- Public Safety Education – through special training events and one on one interaction, officers educate the public on boating, hiking, hunting, snow mobiling, and other recreational safety precautions.
What does it take?
Most natural resource agencies require that officers complete the standard state police academy requirements followed by an additional training academy specific to natural resource issues including topics like sport and commercial fisheries enforcement; watercraft operation and accident investigation; state park and site regulations; endangered species protection; and applicable U.S. Fish & Wildlife laws.
Special knowledge or requirements may include a test of swimming abilities; knowledge of local fish, game, and environmental issues; or experience with recreational vehicles.
What is it like?
For an inside look at a career in natural resources and conservation law enforcement, visit our new Discover Policing You Tube Playlist Recruitment: Natural Resources Law Enforcement: