You may have noticed more press releases from Manitoba Conservation, identifying illegal hunting and fishing, listed violations, charges and seizures from many parts of the province. This, all in an effort to reduce poaching, trespassing, night-lighting and other illegal hunting and fishing practices.
Blake Patterson is a Conservation Officer at Swan River, and also President of the Board of Directors for the North American Game Warden Museum at the International Peace Garden.
Patterson says the mission of the Peace Garden museum is two-fold; to honor those officers fallen in the line of duty and to raise awareness of the policing efforts in this field.
"The museum opened in 2005, after close to 15 years of planning by active Conservation Officers and Game Wardens from the United States and Canada about creating a museum to educate the public about natural resource protection and the officers that fulfill that, as well as honoring officers who have died in the line of duty," explains Patterson.
A memorial cairn on the museum grounds lists the names of the fallen officers from across North America, by each state and province. Inside the museum you'll find wildlife mounts of a wide variety of animals and birds found in North America. "Every wildlife exhibit comes from a case [file], so it's a confiscated item with a story to it."
Also on display are Conservation Officer uniforms and tools. "We're here to educate the public on the good work our officers do across North America," he says.
The Manitoba government continues to invest in conservation efforts, allocating $300,000 to curb illegal night-light hunting activity through the purchase of helicopters and under-cover trucks for our province's conservation officers. There are also more lakeside check stops to check for illegal fishing and over-limit violations, as well as checking for firearms and illegal kills.
Conservation policing is 'under-ratedly' dangerous, says Patterson. "Many of our officers don't have the luxury of large forces, so they're confined to working by themselves in remote areas, far away from back-up. We deal with people with firearms more than any other law enforcement on a daily basis."
On behalf of the museum's Board of Directors, Patterson shares his appreciation for the funding support from the Manitoba government. "We're hoping to drum up a little more support from some other agencies and in other jurisdictions to help pitch in as well," he adds.
The Game Warden Museum is open every summer from Mother's Day weekend to Labor Day weekend in September.
Visit the International Peace Garden Game Warden Museum website at: Visit – North American Game Warden Museum