Game Warden's Lament
The author uses a collection of short stories to introduce rascals and characters who depend upon fish and wildlife resources for recreation, sustenance and livelihood. Night hunting poachers, trappers illegally working game preserves, unfriendly anglers, the terror and tragedy of wildlife encounters gone bad, and Aboriginal persons resisting government encroachment on treaty and traditional rights for fish and wildlife resources; all provide a rich background for stories of adventure and misadventure.
The author's stories share with the reader the emotions, smells, sounds, and scenery of lonely wilderness patrols when the Game Warden's bush lore and law enforcement skills are put to use in dangerous situations.
During a career spanning twenty five years in fish and wildlife law enforcement and management, the author became increasingly aware that the lonely and often dangerous job of the Conservation Officer was little known or understood by most people unless they were dependent on fish and wildlife resources for sustenance, livelihood, or recreation. Rural people know the Conservation Officer as the 'Game Warden'. Regardless of changes in official titles and responsibility, the Conservation Officer continues to be known as the Game Warden by those with whom he comes in contact.
Although Conservation Officers continue to seek out persons breaking fish and game laws and use investigation and arrest to bring law breakers before the courts; the officer's work today is not the same as it was thirty years ago. What has changed over the years since the author began his sub-arctic patrols is the way the job is done. For many years, officers worked wilderness patrols alone and without radio communication. Claiming overtime was rarely practiced. Hunting and fishing with government equipment during quiet times made up a small part of the difference. The Department always came out ahead.
It was a time when Chief Rangers ruled the land with an iron hand and unions with their grievances and work-to-rule were only a quiet whisper for another time. It was a time when law enforcement was often conducted in ways that would, today, get an officer fired, and worse.
Mike Hart shares with us stories that capture tragedy, courage, and humour. Some of the stories shared include death and grief. Some of the stories involving wildlife are brutal. That is the way it was.