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 crystal clear waters of the Keys to the vast Everglades to the rolling hills of the Panhandle, Florida is a unique and beautiful place. Fishing, hunting, boating and wildlife viewing are multimillion-dollar industries in the state.
We all want to be able to participate safely, conveniently and in a way that doesn’t harm the environment and wildlife.
Enter the officers of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). We all have a right to enjoy the outdoors, and with that comes a responsibility to protect the outdoors and the people and wildlife in it. FWC officers have been entrusted with the extra duty of being frontline guardians of these natural resources. They are responsible for “Protecting Paradise” for current and future generations to enjoy.
This column will tell how they do that.
There is a legal and philosophical concept accepted nationwide, referred to as the “Public Trust Doctrine.” It is the idea that natural resources are for public use and that the government is charged with maintaining them. The methods to achieve that concept have developed over the years (e.g., 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 and about enjoying all Florida has to offer, you’ll likely come into contact with 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 are expected to 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 a public relations representative with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
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