Newfoundland and Labrador Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Division officer Howard Lavers died Thursday, February 21, 2013 from an on-duty incident in Canada. Lavers, atop his snowmobile, was traversing a stretch of iced pond when it submerged below after it breached the ice, essentially swallowing the snowmobile and Officer Lavers.
Along with two other wildlife officers on snowmobiles, the three enforcement officers were traversing Eastern Bluey Pond, near Blue Mountain. All three officers fell through a thin patch of ice. Although the two other officers managed to resurace and survive, their combined efforts and attempts to save Lavers were unsuccesssful.
Lavers succumbed by drowning in the frigid/icey water.
Lavers’ death marks the first Canadian peace officer to perish in-the-line-of-duty this year.
Assistance provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police dive team ensued. Lavers’ body was recovered by the RCMP the day following this incident.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Division was authorized in 2011, with a 2.1 million budget, after it ceded from the Department of Natural Resources in Canada.
“Transferring the wildlife enforcement function of the Department of Natural Resources to the Department of Justice is a natural step as the province continues to increase enforcement of our wildlife regulations,” said the Honourable Felix Collins, Minister of Justice and Attorney General. “The connection with the Department of Justice is a natural one. Modern day wildlife enforcement is a law enforcement function, thus making the new Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Division a fit with other uniformed services located in the department,” added Collins.
The new Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Division comprises an authorized force of 88 peace officers, which included Officer Lavers.
When it comes to wildlife enforcement and conservation of our lands and the array of animals and creatures on/in them, we do not often consider the inherent dangers. Both from the natural element, such as the aforementioned catastrophy encountered by wildlife Officer Lavers, and the man-made element, such as hunters intentionally juryrigging traps and/or opening fire upon wildlife peace officers.
Given the typically desolated environment and difficult terrain, wildlife enforcement officers have it quite rough, yet perform valiantly and with unsurpassed autonomy. Rare is it that a wildlife enforcement offcier is accompanied by a supervisor, thus trust is a major factor.
With that said, it stands to reason that the type of individual who aspires to fill such a position has an unbridled love of nature and seeks determinedly to preserve it. Therefore, acting autonomously comes easily as these officers of the law seek to fulfill their mission, and do so quite well.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is charged with enforcing wildlife laws, as well as generic laws and statutes, in the State of Florida. With that said, each of the FWC peace officers possesses full powers of arrest throughout the state.
Typically, wildlife enforcement officers, otherwise known as game wardens, are sworn peace officers of their representative states and, as such, have full powers of police authority throughout the state’s jurisdiction (border-to-border).
So, the next time you see a wildlife officer conducting Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) roadside near an automobile, you may think twice before you scratch your head in wonder.
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