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A Conservation Officer is a law enforcement officer who protects wildlife and the environment. A conservation officer may also be referred to as a gamekeeper, game warden, environmental technician or technologist, investigator, forest ranger, wildlife officer, wilderness officer, or wildlife trooper; all of which fall under the rubric of Canadian National Occupational Classification code 2224.
History in New York State
Conservation officers in New York state are known as "environmental conservation officers", or ECOs. The position was created in the late nineteenth century. Originally they were known as "game protectors". The first game protectors recorded were a group of eight men authorized to arrest anyone who killed wildlife on protected land. Their job was to protect game and catch poachers. They also chose to protect streams from pollution. In 1960, their title was changed to "conservation officers", then in 1970, they were renamed "environmental conservation officers" after the Conservation Department and the State Health Department merged to become the "Department of Environmental Conservation". At the same time, their status was changed, giving them more legal power than they had previously had.
Conservation officers generally have a degree in areas specific to wildlife resources, recreation management, fish and wildlife management, criminal justice, or a science major related to these. Most start out their careers as a trainee under the supervision of an experienced conservation officer. After graduation and completion of the trainee program, many go on to law enforcement training to become a peace officer. In America, conservation officers must also take and pass the state civil service exam for ECOs.
Conservation officers by region
- Alaska State Troopers-wildlife enforcement troopers
- Arizona Game and Fish Department
- California Department of Fish and Game
- Connecticut State Environmental Conservation Police
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Office of Law Enforcement
- Indiana Department of Natural Resources - Law Enforcement Division
- Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries – Enforcement Division
- Maine Warden Service
- Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police
- Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
- Michigan Conservation Officers
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - Enforcement Division
- Missouri Department of Conservation
- Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police
- North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
- North Carolina Marine Patrol
- North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
- Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
- Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
- Pennsylvania Game Commission
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Utah, Dept. of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division
- Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
- Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of State Parks
- Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
- Huss, Timothy (2009). "Outdoor Office". New York State Conservationist 64 (2): 12–15.
- Lawson, Helene M. "Controlling the Wilderness: The Work of Wilderness Officers." Society & Animals 11.4 (2003): 329-351. Academic Search Complete. Web. 5 Dec. 2011.
- "Warden Trainee." Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. mt.gov. Web. 05 Dec. 2011.