Geographic Information Systems: A Valuable Tool for Wildlife Law Enforcement

Geographic information systems (GIS) have become a commonly used technology in nearly all aspects of wildlife management except wildlife law enforcement. Law enforcement agencies in large municipalities have also been using GIS extensively to provide better and more efficient enforcement. All states in the Southeast have wildlife violation data in some database that can very quickly and easily link to available county spatial data. Pictorial examination of these data by county on a state-wide basis provides chiefs and supervisors an effective and easy way to evaluate existing programs. Having conservation officers plot specific locations of violations provides individual officers and district administrators a clear picture of an officer's work habits and “sphere of influence.” Results of this examination into the use of GIS in wildlife law enforcement show that GIS can be easily integrated into existing programs and provide a large benefit to both officers and administrators. Additional benefits could potentially be derived by using the spatial capabilities of GIS to model behavior of violators, land use patterns near areas of violation, and population demographics of both violators and areas of violation.

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