About three decades ago the state of Alaska moved the Division of Fish & Wildlife Protection (the "Game Wardens") from the Department of Fish and Game to the Department of Public Safety. That worked out well in some respects; less well in others. Fish & Wildlife troopers got better training -- but substantially less contact with biologists and resource managers.
Just a few years ago, early in the Murkowski administration, the Commissioner of Public Safety downgraded the Division of Fish & Wildlife Protection to a bureau within the Division of State Troopers.
This has not worked well at all. Concern is increasingly being raised in the wildlife conservation community. In November 2005, the Alaska Board of Fisheries and the Board of Game asked Public Safety Commissioner Tandeske for a report on the effectiveness of this move.
In a recent article published by the Alaska Outdoor Council, long time ADFG biologist Patrick Valkenberg writes that "It's Time to Bring Back the Division of Fish & Wildlife Protection." Here is a quote from Valkenberg's article:
You can read the whole article on the Alaska Outdoor Council website.After the reorganization and creation of the Alaska Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement (ABWE) there has been a 24% decrease in annual fish and wildlife patrol and investigation time by fish and wildlife troopers and a 20% decrease in fish and wildlife contacts. However, there has been an accompanying 50% increase in non-fish and wildlife citations and a 75% increase in non-fish and wildlife warnings by ABWE troopers. Also, money that comes into the Fish and Game Fund from fines is down significantly. In other words, fish and wildlife enforcement officers are spending much less of their time on wildlife enforcement and much more of their time assisting the state troopers with regular law enforcement duties.
What do you think?