• Game wardens work for conservation and love of wildlife
    By Darren Marcy | October 12,2012
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    Darren Marcy
    As tens of thousands of hunters and anglers go afield every year, few give thought to the men and women roaming the fields, woods and waterways of Vermont to help make sure the Green Mountain State's wildlife populations remain healthy.

    The state's conservation officers — game wardens — are on the legal front lines in the war on wildlife crimes.

    And while they are often given less-than-respectful names like woods or fish cops — and occasionally much worse — they take it in stride as they work for the law-abiding citizens and the wildlife that live in these green hills.

    The overwhelming majority of hunters and anglers obey the law and are ethical outdoor enthusiasts. We would choose to pass up a deer, partridge or trout if bagging it would require that we cross over the line, or even push our toes up against it.

    They also keep those who might choose to cut corners on the right side of the line and they keep the guilty afield looking over their shoulder.

    With more than 20 years of writing about the outdoors behind me, I've known a few conservation officers in my day and have an enormous amount of respect for them.

    I remember sitting in the dark with a couple of officers waiting for vehicles to come along while on a deer decoy operation. We sat there in the pitch black, drinking coffee from a Thermos and shooting the bull. The stories that were told that night revealed an overwhelming love of protecting the wildlife against those who would steal from the law-abiding people of the state no matter the hardship it might bring to them.

    That's one of the undercurrents I've discovered among conservation officers — they not only love what they do, but they're willing to put up with a lot in order to do it.

    Apparently, I'm not the only one who finds game warden work fascinating.

    A variety of television shows have detailed the profession in recent years.

    “Alaska State Troopers,” in which some troopers specialize in wildlife work, and “Wild Justice” about wardens in California were both carried on the National Geographic Channel. Also, “North Woods Law” about Maine wardens was on Animal Planet, and “Wardens,” which features Montana conservation officers, was on the Outdoor Channel.

    Admittedly, the shows focus on the negative, but the officers on them all point out at different times that the biggest percentage of people they deal with are legal, ethical and respectful.

    But, I'm glad these folks are out there trying to catch those who don't follow the law.

    Here in Vermont, game wardens are out there every day standing up for the wildlife that can't stand up for itself and protecting the natural resources that we hold so dear in this state.

    To learn more about Vermont game wardens, check out the Fish & Wildlife Department's website.

    Click on the Law Enforcement and Game Wardens link near the top of the page. You'll find a wealth of information about conservation offices, the job they do and what it takes to become warden in Vermont.

    There are links to the job requirements, an episode from Vermont Public Television's show, “Outdoor Journal” about game wardens, and a news segment about wardens from WCAX TV.

    The job of working for wildlife and for hunters and anglers must be a thankless one at times, but also one of the most rewarding careers an outdoor enthusiast can undertake.

    Contact Darren at darren@darrenmarcy.com or at his website at www.DarrenMarcy.com.
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