Wildlife Trooper enforcement authority?

There have been several questions asked regarding the authority of Wildlife Troopers in Alaska and our authority with other federal regulations. I will try to combine these questions into one answer.

Alaska Wildlife Troopers (also know as brown shirts) are fully commissioned State Troopers in Alaska. We have full authority to enforce all criminal and wildlife laws in the state and some authority to enforce federal fish and wildlife laws. The Wildlife Troopers are one of two Trooper divisions within the Department of Public Safety. The Alaska State Troopers (AST) mainly enforce criminal laws, but can also enforce wildlife and fisheries laws. The Alaska Wildlife Troopers mainly enforce wildlife and fisheries laws, but also enforce criminal laws. Both AST and AWT have identical enforcement authority. AST’s primary focus is on crimes against people and property and AWT’s primary focus is on resource crimes.

In most situations, when an AWT Trooper discovers violations of federal wildlife and fisheries laws they are turned over to the appropriate federal agency that enforces that law (USFWS, NOAA, BLM, NPS etc.). There are limited situations that the state will charge in state court for some violations. This mostly occurs when state and federal law are the same for the given offense.

AWT is the primary enforcement agency for fish and wildlife related crimes throughout the state. There are exceptions for federal lands, national park lands, federal marine waters and national wildlife refuges. AWT has authority to enforce on the aforementioned lands and water, but usually defer to the managing federal agency. In most situations, AWT works closely with these agencies to enforce the wildlife and fisheries laws in that area. AWT posts Troopers strategically around the state. Most of these posts are also locations where “blue shirts” are posted. AWT does have several posts where “brown shirts” are the only State Trooper posted there and consequently these Troopers deal with both criminal and wildlife offenses on a regular basis.

Thanks for the questions.

Alaska Wildlife Troopers