Jul 31, 2008

The Importance of Law Enforcement

Moosehorn NWRBack on July 14, this blog reported on an incident where a refuge volunteer helped to catch two people who had violated the law at a national wildlife refuge. The blog post also pointed out that the International Association of Chiefs of Police reported that the Refuge System needs 845 full-time law enforcement officers to patrol the nearly 100 million acres of the Refuge System, but currently there are only approximately 180 full-time officers on the ground.

On July 29, the Bangor Daily News published an article about the new law enforcement officer at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Maine, and the story did a good job of pointing out how important law enforcement officers are within the Refuge System:

Officer Lori Lauer, who has been a law enforcement officer for the past five years, has worked for the last two months at the wildlife refuge, and is becoming more familiar with the area.

“I can do everything from what state troopers do to what state game wardens do,” she said Monday. “Drunk driving cases, drug cases…I am out there on foot, ATVs, snowmobiles. I have boats. I have canoes. I have a mountain bike. I have a lot of means to get around and patrol the refuge,” she said. “I am also out there to help with car accidents. I wear a lot of hats, so it is not [always] a bad thing to see me.”

Even though Moosehorn NWR has been around for more than 70 years, Lori is the first full-time law officer for the refuge. Among the problems she deals with are poaching, snowmobile accidents, car accidents, a growing amount of theft, drug parties, and drug-related incidents. In addition to enforcing the law, Lori also has the added duty of protecting the public. According to Moosehorn refuge manager Bill Kolodnicki, Lori’s main responsibility is…

“To make sure the public is safe like the snowmobile man that runs into the logging truck or the person that is trying to cross-country ski and gets run down by a snowmobile. If people want to use the refuge we need somebody to be watching out for them and that is why Lori will be very important to us.”

Law enforcement is one of those neglected areas of wildlife refuge management, especially when it comes time for budget cuts. But if we expect the public to enjoy these lands, then they should have the peace of mind in knowing that each refuge has a law enforcement officer who can protect the resources and the humans who enjoy them.

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