A look at the role wildlife education plays for CPW officers – The Fort Morgan Times
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth of six articles written by Wildlife Officer Scott Murdoch which will be distributed throughout the summer.
CONIFER, Colorado – Welcome back, my name is Scott Murdoch and I am the District Wildlife Manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). I work in the Conifer area along US Highway 285 in parts of Park and Jefferson counties.
This article is the fourth in a series of articles that will highlight how wildlife is managed in Colorado. CPW is the state agency responsible for managing the wildlife that inhabits Colorado. Our agency employs aquatic and terrestrial biologists, researchers, property and hatchery technicians, administrators, wildlife officers, investigators, engineers and many more to accomplish the broad mission of conservation and protection. of the 960 species of game and non-game in the State. Over 70% of CPW’s wildlife conservation and protection programs aimed at conserving and protecting these species are funded by license fees from hunters and anglers. CPW does not receive taxpayer money to fund its wildlife conservation programs.
In early articles, I described that our District Wildlife Managers are commissioned wildlife officers who focus on law enforcement, biology, and education. Today I will describe much of my daily job, wildlife education.
Much of CPW’s mission relies on employees to be educators of some sort. We have dedicated educators who spend their careers educating people about wildlife. We have other roles that spend part of their day as an educator.
While my role as a wildlife officer may seem to focus primarily on law enforcement or the biological aspects, education takes up a large portion of my time and is vitally important. Many days are spent teaching hunter education, teaching 4-H, chatting with local school students, teaching people about fishing, participating in outdoor skills days by mentoring those who wish to get involved in the outdoors, mentoring novice hunters, educating the public on bear-lion conflict, teaching hunters and fishermen the laws and regulations and teach owners how to live with deer and elk in the neighborhoods. Many days are also spent teaching essential skills of other officers, such as handling and shooting firearms, defensive tactics and arrest control, boat driving, ATV riding and riding. horseback riding, to name a few.
I can’t tell you how often someone comes up to me at the gas station, lake or trailhead to ask a simple question and turn that question into a 30 minute or hour long conversation about everything regarding wildlife. The public loves wildlife and so do I.
These topics are easy to discuss and generate a lot of interest from the public. There are many members of the public who know a great deal about the wildlife around them and others who know very little. Mountain communities expect the people who live there, whether native or transplanted, to know the basics of living with wildlife. We help teach people what to do with the wildlife around them. I have taught life with wildlife courses to realtors so they can help educate buyers about the reality of life in the wild. We are talking with homeowners associations and schools about bear and lion issues and why it is harmful to feed deer, elk and moose. I hope that by teaching the public, they can then become teachers as well, ultimately reducing our negative impact on wildlife when we live in their habitats.
A big part of my job is sharing my passion as a hunter and fisherman and teaching others to hunt and fish. Hunting and fishing play a vital role in wildlife management and is one of the very few activities that you can directly interact with wildlife. The advantage is also that you can take wonderful, fresh, organic, free-range, hormone-free meat home to feed your family.
Our wildlife is an incredible resource and education is part of what makes this resource sustainable. Hunting and fishing are highly regulated and severe penalties are provided for those who do not obey the rules. Sometimes the reason people don’t follow the rules isn’t because they’re malicious, but rather because they don’t know or are confused. It can do a lot for members of the public to educate rather than citing them for a violation. Remember that the goal is to respect the law, and many times that is just education.
There are so many people who have the desire to become a hunter or a fisherman, but don’t have the know-how or a mentor to show them. CPW has stepped up in many ways to try and teach novice hunters and anglers. The Hunter Awareness Program helps mentor many novice hunters each year. CPW’s fishing clinics reach over 20,000 people statewide. Finally, the many outdoor skills days, archery lessons and shooting lessons teach essential skills to emerging hunters and fishermen. If you would like more information on CPW educational outreach events, click here.
There are so many other educational events that CPW hosts every year in different locations across the state. If anything interests you, feel free to visit the CPW website or call one of our offices. To highlight the wide variety of educational outreach, we need only look at an event at Evergreen hosted by the local wildlife officer. The event is a junior game warden class taught in conjunction with Jefferson County Public Schools. It’s part of their outdoor lab program, where students learn about poaching, evidence gathering, investigation, and prosecution. Each year it receives rave reviews from all the students, inspiring many of them to investigate a career in wildlife management.
When I started this career, I didn’t see myself as a teacher. The more I am in this career, the more I realize how essential this element of education is. The public craves information about wildlife, what CPW does and opportunities to be in the wild. CPW field staff, biologists, district wildlife managers and dedicated CPW educators do their best day in and day out to provide the public with the best information regarding the wildlife resource.
The next time you see wildlife, know that the local wildlife officer takes care of the wildlife you cherish so much. If you would like to meet your local Wildlife Officer, please come with questions and share coffee with us on July 10 at the following locations and times:
- Conifer: 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Dutch Bros Coffee: 10855 US Hwy 285
- Evergreen: 9-10 a.m. at Java Groove: 28186 CO-74 # 1
- Black Hawk: 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at B&C Coffee: 135 Clear Creek St.
- Fairplay: 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Java Moose: 730 Main Street.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at other aspects of Colorado wildlife management. If you have general wildlife questions, please call the CPW North East Region office at 303-291-7227.
Poaching is a crime against you, your neighbor, and everyone in the state of Colorado. Call toll free 1-877-COLO-OGT or Verizon cell phone users can simply dial #OGT to report it. If you prefer, you can email us at [email protected]