By Jeff Lucas, USFWS
The sun is getting low in the still, western sky of central Minnesota.
A brilliant, fiery orange hue is cast across the landscape. The wetland is a glassy mirror, literally doubling the picture of this amazing sight. The sweet smell of the prairie is unexplainable.
As I sit in the tall grass on this cool, fall evening, I can only think, “Wow, this is my office.”
Suddenly the silence is broken by multiple shotgun blasts coming from just over the rise on the prairie before me.
“Ah, there you guys are,” I say to myself as I get up, crest the rise and approach two waterfowl hunters that I knew were out there somewhere.
“Good evening, guys. Federal Officer.”
A slight smile crosses my face as the two hunters flinch and gasp for a breath, not knowing that I was even there.
“You scared us!” one man says surprisingly, still trying to catch his breath.
I think to myself, “Yep, that was the plan.”
The dance begins as licenses, shotguns, and shells are checked.
“How’s the hunt going, guys?”
“We got two,” one man proudly proclaims.
“That’s great. Where are they?”
“In the boat. Wanna see?”
“Aren’t they nice, Sir?”
“They are, but those aren’t ducks, guys.”
The evening ends with citations written, two federally protected Pied-billed Grebes collected as evidence, and some friendly advice given on the importance of proper waterfowl identification.
Day or night, Wildlife Officers have to be ever-vigilent. (Photo: USFWS)
Similar stories are played out every day across the Refuge System by the dedicated and driven corps of Federal Wildlife Officers.
As a Federal Wildlife Officer with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, you are charged with the enforcement duties related to the mission and objective of the National Wildlife Refuge System – protection of wildlife, its habitat, and the public interest.
The field is your office, the sun and moon are your office light.
There may be a better job out there somewhere, but I don’t know what it could possibly be.
Jeff Lucas is a Law Enforcement Specialist in the Division of Refuge Law Enforcement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.