PGC officers write 2 warnings for every citation
Over the years, I have heard many complaints about Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife conservation officers being overzealous, unfair and too tough. But a report given by the agency's law-enforcement chief at the commissioners' recent work session in Harrisburg painted a different picture.
Richard Palmer, director of the commission's Bureau of Wildlife Protection, told commissioners that 2012 is turning out to be typical for his troops. Again this year, by far, the most common violation is illegal taking of game. He reported that the number of violations is up very slightly over last year, but close to average.
"But I think that is pretty amazing, given the fact that we are probably at 27 vacancies with wildlife officers now," he said. "I wanted to tell you that even though our manpower is down, our officers are doing a really good job."
Commissioner Jay Delaney, of Luzerne County, noted that citations filed by commission officers have a "phenomenal" 96 percent conviction rate, which Commissioner Robert Schlemmer, of Westmoreland County, called "solid work."
"It shows the officers' technical competence. We are very proud of that kind of conviction rate," Palmer said. "It shows the quality of their work.
"When you look at the total number of violations — more than 20,000 — that's pretty good for 600 officers. And also this year, they wrote 6,537 citations and we gave 13,607 warnings, so that is certainly indicative that officers are using good discretion in writing basically two warnings for every violation."
And Carl Roe, commission executive director, pointed out that those figures actually understate the amount of warnings. "There are a lot of verbal warnings that go out that are not written up," he said.