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A game warden or wildlife officer is an employee who has the role of protecting wildlife. Game wardens may also be referred to as troopers, state troopers, wildlife troopers, conservation officers or wildlife officers. They have much the same role as gamekeepers in the United Kingdom. They play a major role in keeping a balance in the animal kingdom.
As noted at the North American Game Warden Museum, confronting armed poachers in rural and even remote locations can be lonely, dangerous and even fatal work for game wardens. Recognition of the ultimate sacrifice of these officers at this museum is considered to be important, concomitant to recognition at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
Officers are exposed to other risks beyond being killed by hunters, trappers and armed fishermen. Heart attacks, motor vehicle, boating, snowmobile and airplane accidents, animal attacks, drowning, hypothermia, etc. also take their toll while on duty.
In North America game wardens are typically employees of state or provincial governments. 26 of the 50 U.S. states have government departments entitled Department of Natural Resources or a similar title. These departments typically patrol state or provincial parks and public lands and waterways dedicated to hunting and fishing, and also enforce state or provincial game and environmental laws on private property.
In an increasingly interconnected and globalized world, their concerns are much more comprehensive than local enforcement. They also enforce broader conservation laws, such as the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and similar laws/treaties. or the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (in Canada) which implements the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna As necessary, they will work in tandem with appropriate national or federal agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or Environment Canada.
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