Wednesday, June 22, 2016
A Different Type of Protection
Big Cypress provides a different experience for a prospective LE Park Ranger. Along with Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas, it is one of only two National Preserves in the Park System outside of Alaska, and as such it offers unique challenges. Hunting and fishing are both allowed in the preserve (with the proper permits and in the proper season) as are off-road vehicle and air boat use.
This means that visitor contacts are not always cut and dry, and a lot of emphasis is put onto the ranger to seek out and prevent crimes where it may appear there are none. For example, in most parks hunting is prohibited, and if the Ranger were to see someone hunting it would be an easy, instant, citation. At Big Cypress, the ranger would have to approach the visitor, check their hunting permit and then, at the Ranger's discretion, search for other signs of wrongdoing if a citation were to be issued. Poaching and commercial hunting are both common problems at Big Cypress so evidence of exceeding bag limits would be something to look out for.
This requires the Rangers of Big Cypress to be proactive to protect their resource, as there is often not an easy violation to be found. I was party to a stop in which Ranger Jared Barber contacted visitors for fishing and in addition to finding out that they did not have licenses Ranger Barber was able to find a bag of marijuana in the front console of the visitor'
s car utilizing investigative techniques. Through observing this, and many other contacts like it, I am learning how to approach contacts with an open, investigatory, mind and am finding out first hand how varied a career in Park Service Law Enforcement can be.