FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE: FFWC officers protect paradise

Do you enjoy going for boat rides, picnicking at state parks, deer hunting or bass fishing?

Many of Florida’s residents and visitors enjoy the state’s abundant natural resources. From the clear waters of the Keys, to the vast Everglades to the Panhandle’s rolling hills, Florida is a unique and beautiful place.

Fishing, hunting, boating and wildlife viewing are multimillion-dollar industries in the state.

We all want to participate safely, conveniently, and in a manner that doesn’t harm the environment and wildlife.

Enter the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers.

We all have a right to enjoy the outdoors, and with that comes responsibility to protect the outdoors and the people and wildlife in it. FWC officers have the extra duty of being these natural resources’ frontline guardians. They are responsible for protecting paradise for current and future generations to enjoy.

There is a legal and philosophical concept, referred to as the “Public Trust Doctrine,” accepted nationwide. It is the idea that natural resources are for public use and that the government must maintain them. The methods to achieve that concept have developed over the years (like the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program), but conservation officers have always been an integral part of making it a reality.

As you are out enjoying all Florida has to offer, you’ll likely encounter some of the 853 FWC officers across the state. Keep in mind the big job they have to do and the common interest you share.

In fulfilling your responsibility to protect our “public trust,” you can help FWC officers do their job.

Talk to them.

FWC officers must listen to a concern from a boater or a question from a landowner. That helps our officers target their efforts and provide better service. Their community involvement also includes participation in youth and outreach activities.

The FWC’s Wildlife Alert Reward Program is another great way to help; you can report violators like poachers or people boating under the influence. Col. Jim Brown leads the FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement, and he wants to hear from you too — whether you have something positive or negative to say — about different issues around the state or interactions with officers in the field.

You can contact him by visiting MyFWC.com/Contact and selecting “Divisions and Offices.”

Together we can keep enjoying all Florida has to offer and keep it healthy and safe!

Katie Purcell is the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Law Enforcement Community Relations coordinator.

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