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POACHER SHOOTS OFFICER!

On December 20th an Ohio wildlife officer was shot in the line of duty while investigating three men allegedly poaching deer in Clinton County, Ohio. Officer Kevin Behr is expected to make a full recovery but the event is alarming to say the least. 

Yes, Ohio is a long way from Wyoming and the rest of the Rocky Mountain West but this story isn’t so much about where this shooting occurred as it is an eye opener for what all of our Game Wardens and Conservation Officers potentially face every day they are in the field working for you and I. The uncertainty of every single encounter wildlife LEO’s have on a daily basis is very much the same as police officers with an added caveat; almost every person they come in contact with during hunting season is in possession of a deadly weapon. This should serve as a reminder to each of us that these men and women do this job willingly and devote themselves to the preservation of our natural resources, often at great personal peril. 

The folks who dedicate themselves to be the protectors of America’s greatest national treasure, its wildlife, deserve to be held in as much esteem as their peers who wear the blue. In addition to treating them with the respect they deserve, we need to be actively helping them in the field. 

This help can be something as simple as policing our own ranks to make sure our hunting companions are above board and in compliance with state and federal game laws. Or, it can be taking the time to report misconduct as we experience it or witness it. I know most of us talk a good game when it comes to condemning poachers and law breakers but I’m willing to bet that when push comes to shove, we don’t follow through when the rubber meets the road. It’s simple, these officers are tasked with incredibly difficult jobs and are often asked to enforce game laws and investigate cases in areas that are enormous. Park County, Wyoming is nearly six times larger than the entire state of Rhode Island and we have only a couple game wardens to patrol the entirety of it. Without honest hunters policing our own ranks and willingly aiding the enforcement of our game laws, poachers have an undeniable advantage. 

I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t want to snitch on someone.” That someone gave up the privilege of you turning a blind eye the minute they chose to violate the law and they are counting on others doing nothing about it. 

There are dangers with most jobs and life itself is inherently risky, however, our wildlife law enforcement officers need all the help they can get protecting the animals that we all are fond of. So the next time you witness an act of even suspected poaching, or are privy to information regarding poaching, please contact your local wildlife LEO and when they show up, thank them for their service. 

 

About Todd Helms

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15 comments

  1. Good to hear on recovery! Wardens are the toughest of all law enforcement, they deal with trigger happy gun owners everyday on the job. I can only hope those involved pay a higher consequence than a poaching ticket.

  2. Hunters, fishermen and outdoorsmen; when approached by a warden, really any law enforcement officer, be certain they can see your hands. If hunting, unload the weapon, open it up and, if possible, put it down. Then, for goodness sake, be polite. Yes, they may be interrupting your hunting or fishing but they are only doing the job we ask them to do. Cooperation will get you back to it much more quickly.

  3. I am a retired L.E. From a large Southern California P.D., in a city riddled with gangs, drugs and a variety of assaults and soaring homocide rates. 30 years in patrol, my back up was with with me or across the city, these Wardens, I don’t where they get the BRASS from! I take my hat off to these guys,few as brave, confronting these knuckle heads and they are alone in the wilderness.

    I hope they get what’s coming to them, plus extra. Glad to hear the Warden will recover. He’ll go right back out there, I’m sure. Not many guy’s like him around. SEMPER FI.

  4. Obey the laws, respect their task and variables, but I must add that 9 of 10 I have encountered were ass holes from the jump. Especially, when I have a kid, lose the attitude. As soon as you’ve figured out I’m not a threat and not breaking the law, chill out a bit.

    • My experience has been directly opposite of yours. Sorry you were treated rudely.

    • Gerald Brunckhorst

      I have a lot of Game Warden, Hunting Instructor and Volunteer friends and acquaintances. 99.9% of these great hard working men and women (in state and out of state) don’t have attitudes unless we give them a reason to have one. In fact, only one man has ever started with an attitude at our late night meeting. He unfortunately was know for attitude before even introducing himself. After a five minute conversation, about why I was traveling a backroad at midnight in a blinding snowstorm, I had to ask the same about his activity. When both of us understood the others situation the conversation turned around and we parted ways with mutual respect. I’m sorry to hear you and your child(ern) have had some rough encounters.

  5. My interactions with wardens and, frankly, all law enforcement have been positive. I’ve never received a game violation ticket but have had a few for speeding, they have always been polite even when I was much younger. Ummm, maybe they were polite because I was respectful

    • Agree 100%, also be honest with them even if you don’t have everything in order!!! I’ve found out myself when I’ve been in the wrong ( driving, speeding) and your honest with them you are always better off!!!

      • You imply that I was disrespectful and or dishonest. Not the case. Our interactions have been different, but it has nothing to do with respect or honesty. In my experience game wardens are often ass holes “from the jump” from the beginning. Being honest and respectful are obvious. These wardens need to do the same. They know in 5 seconds if they are dealing with a knucklehead or a hostile situation. When you bump into me, and my kids, and I am respectful, honest, and I have my shit in order, don’t be an ass hole. Relax and be a conservationist. Leave the kids with a positive impression most importantly.

        • I did a training with the Colorado DOW years ago. They had several different scenarios set up along several miles of dirt roads. Meth lab in the woods, suicide by cop, poachers etc. There were 4 of us in our group/scenario and we were 4 drunk road hunters and 1 of us had an outstanding warrant and a pistol (it was an air soft gun for the training). The other three including me were to distract the officer(s) so the 4th could try and shoot them. We did good for the 1st couple of pairs that came through then they must have warned the others because they became more careful. We were able to distract them enough that the shooter got them. The look on their faces was hard to forget even though this was just a training. They let their guard down for just a few seconds and were “killed” by the shooter. The color drained from their faces and I remember this one experienced lady officer paired up with a rookie was shaking. So I now understand why they are sometimes cold or seem to be jerks, they can’t let their guard down because the penalty for doing so can be death.

  6. mostwmost here in kommiefornia – only two were cool so farafar – have chips on the shoulders. they’re rude, don’t want to help, and treat ya like criminals. ask them questions and they get all offensive.

    I’ve called to leave questions and never get calls back. even called the head office… nope no calls back.

    I used to buy stickers every year in support of them… not anymore 👎

  7. This is not directed toward the author, as I believe that since he italicized the term “snitch,” he too probably believes the term to be misused. I have never recognized or given any credence to the term, “snitch.” In my world, there is no negative connotation or implied dishonor in providing information on someone who has done something illegal or morally wrong. I know some provide information simply for the monetary reward, some for revenge or vendictiveness, some because they don’t like the offender, and some – honorably – simply because they are aware of illegal or immoral activity and feel it’s their civic and moral duty to inform law enforcement or someone on behalf of the wornged individual(s). I think using the word “snitch” only furthers the negative attitude toward those willing to help LEOs and otherwise expose wrongdoing. I just believe the term is misused and really has no use in our vocabulary. Soubnds kind of like a sermon but it’s the best way I could explain it.

  8. I’m happy the warden is going to recover. No responsible sportsman should ever hesitate to report an observed violation.

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