LB: "Do you find that getting those releases hinders your job in any way?"
Absolutely not! In fact, for my job, I feel it's imperative.
What hinders my job is not having access to land where problem animals are coming from. Most landowners are cooperative in providing access to work problem animals especially now with lower fur prices.
Those permission releases also release the landowner from any liability that may come about as a result of my actions on his land. It's a win win.
We used to have to get "ANNUAL AGREEMENTS" signed. That was a pain when considering how many landowners I was working on within a single year. Now we are encouraged to get "AGREEMENTS" updated every 3 years which works better for me and has not created any problems.
A landowner can void the permission at any time by calling the number on the release. I can't remember ever being kicked off property that I had written permission on during the period of the release. I'm not there unless there is a problem or potential problem.
Any stipulation can be written on the contract such as staying x amount of distance from horses, not conducting ADC work during hunting season, etc. etc.
With that said, my job is totally different than a Conservation Officer's job of enforcing game laws which would naturally lend itself to some landowners, who may be prone to breaking game laws, not granting permission.
LB: "Please tell me why game wardens shouldn't have to abide by the same rules that you do."
When it comes to checking hunting licenses, those who cater to game violations are not going to grant permission to a warden to check their licenses if they are illegal.
Public wildlife residing on private land lends itself to this problem.
You and I will continue to disagree on this issue so there is no sense to keep rehashing it.
LB: "You know that permission can be obtained months or even years before you need it and in the process of gathering those signatures, the CO would be forced to develop some of those "communication skills" that Sec. Cooper talks about so much and we have found to be almost totally lacking around here."
I think landowner relations is a very important part of being a Conservation Officer. Not just from the standpoint of getting permission to access the land for reasons other than law enforcement but to find out how landowners feel about hunting seasons, the number of licenses issued, etc. etc. Those contacts are very important.
Everytime I go into a classroom and talk to kids about wildlife I ask myself why I don't do it more because it's so rewarding. I think those things are important. Every GF&P employee should be encouraged to work with the kids in the area with archery, gun safety, fishing derby's, youth hunts, etc. etc. They should also be encouraged to be members of the volunteer fire department and ambulance crews. That's how you meet people on good terms.
My first experience with GF&P was a Conservation Officer that taught me how to reload shells and call coyotes. My idea of the ideal conservation officer is one who is well known, well liked, and well respected in the community. They prevent game violations simply by nobody wanting to be arrested by their friend. There is no better situation.
Believe it or not, we have many Conservation Officers that have that working relationship in their community. Dennis Lengkeek from Burke, Jim Schroeder from Sturgis, and Owen Meadows from Hot Springs are all examples of Conservation Officers that were well liked and respected in their communities. All three continue to serve in their communities after their retirement. Pat Dinkins had nearly 200 producers show up at his retirement in Bison. Those guys are all role models and they should set the stage for future employees.