Geographic Information Systems in Wildlife Law Enforcement

Geographic information systems (GIS) have been used in wildlife and fisheries management and research for many years. These systems are not being used, however, to the fullest potential in conservation law enforcement. At present, there are only 5 conservation law enforcement agencies in the United States using GIS. In Mississippi a GIS is being developed for use in conservation law enforcement. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, in conjunction with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries at Mississippi State University, is involved in the development of this GIS. This paper will address the good (advantages), the bad (disadvantages), and the ugly (serious problems) in the development of this GIS. The information provided in this paper is to be used as a guide for conservation law enforcement agencies that are interested in establishing a GIS for use in their state. Another objective of this paper is to help conservation law enforcement agencies understand that the technologies that are being used by municipal police departments and in wildlife management can be used in conservation law enforcement. Suggestions presented are what we have found to work in Mississippi during the development stages of our GIS. Geographic information systems can provide officers the means for enforcement to become more pro-active and efficient at helping to manage and protect our wildlife resources by keeping the knowledge of all officers that have worked for an agency or in a specific area, with that agency and in that area. With this knowledge base in place, wildlife resources can be effectively protected and remain viable for years to come.

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