The Wildlife Enforcement Association as a Wildlife Enforcement Tool

A depressed economic situation, coupled with an ever-increasing population, has resulted in a severe financial strain being placed on many state agencies in recent years. Because of a lack of funds, public service agencies have not expanded at the same pace as the population they serve. This problem is even more evident in southern states that have had to contend with a migration of northern industry to these less energy-sensitive areas. Employees accompanying this industry, added to the population expansion, have placed an additional burden on these so-called sun belt states. Wildlife agencies of the South are especially hard pressed because many state legislators consider them as only indirectly responsible for public safety. Wildlife enforcement and management compete for these less than adequate funds within the wildlife agencies. This combination of factors has resulted in many wildlife enforcement divisions waging a constant battle for adequate manpower and equipment. The Wildlife Enforcement Officer, or game warden, enjoys a high profile in the community in which he lives and works. Because he works both rural and urban areas, he soon becomes acquainted with perhaps more people than any other law enforcement officer. The longevity of his assignment in a county will determine the amount of support he garners, but few other officers will have more support than the local game warden. Although the game warden enjoys a wealth of support from landowners and sportsmen, the directors and department heads must make their request for funding and wildlife regulations without this local-level support because the legislative bodies view the commissioners and directors as representing a state agency, not the grass-roots support. It could be possible to make this support available to the heads of wildlife agencies through an organization which includes local residents as members.

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