PGC to reimburse deputies at higher rate
The Pennsylvania Game Commission owes a lot to its force of deputy conservation officers. At its recent quarterly meeting in Franklin, Pa., the agency approved a measure to reimbuse their expenses at a slightly higher rate.
The board of commissioners voted unanimously to increase the per diem paid (to cover daily expenses incurred while on duty in a 24-hour period) to deputy officers from $65 to $80.
There are currently 394 deputies working for the agency, and they are considered volunteers.
“We heavily depend on deputy officers,” said Carl Roe, agency executive director. "Not all deputies’ hours are compensated — they are volunteers and so they donate a lot of time.
“We try to reimburse their expenses, but not necessarily as a pay for day. We can't equate what we pay them and what they give to us — we benefit immensely from their efforts."
The average Game Commission deputy conservation officer is committing about 400 hours a year to the job, according to Richard Palmer, commission head of law enforcement.
"We are just happy to be in a position with the resources we got from Marcellus Shale gas in particular to be able to do this for our deputy force," said Roe,
And the commission is looking for more deputies, according to Commissioner Bob Schlemmer of Westmoreland County, until recently a long-time deputy himself.
"We are currently looking for a few good men and women and if you're interested in being a deputy you can contact our wildlife conservation officers or regional offices," he said.
“The deputies are volunteers and spend many hours away from their families protecting the wildlife of this commonwealth, and we owe them a great debt of gratitude.”
Commissioner Dave Shreffler, of Bedford County, agreed, noting that the increase in the per diem rate is well-deserved.
“Our volunteer should be recognized and I thank them very much,” he said. “It is just astounding how much they sacrifice for the agency. Many people can’t understand why our deputies would give up so much to volunteer. It is just their love of wildlife and hunting that motivates them."