By Pat Culverhouse
There’s a lot more to being a game warden than checking hunting and fishing licenses and patrolling back roads looking for illegal hunters. And, according to Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Cpl. Justin Greer, changing times mean officers who are well trained and better prepared.
Greer is a seven-year veteran of LDWF and currently operates in the agency’s Region 1.
“We come across a lot of good people but we also come across a lot of felons so we have to be well trained for that,” Greer told Minden Lions Club members. “We depend on Sheriff’s offices and state police for our backup and we’ve developed very good relationships with all law enforcement.”
Like other agencies, LDWF officers are certified by the Louisiana Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST), to meet standards for peace officers in the State of Louisiana. It’s a training course with a minimum of 496 hours required for certification.
Greer was asked if training at the academy was as arduous as military training.
“It was pretty rough,” he responded, adding that at age 36, he was going through the physical portion of the program with much younger individuals. “I realized how old I was getting. It’s sort of like boot camp, with PT every morning and lots of running.”
Greer said training also focused on how to remain calm during high stress situations. “One of our best weapons is our mouth,” he explained. “When we’re out in the woods alone with a suspect, we don’t want something to get out of hand that can be handled reasonably.”
Greer said along with the training requirements to become an agent, LDWF officers must also keep up with changing state laws governing sportsmen.
With the upcoming hunting seasons, Greer said a restructure that includes new hunting and fishing license regulations is now in effect. Hunters had asked for the changes, including a 365-day expiration time frame that could mean a license might expire during hunting season.
Enforcing state game laws might mean that a good, well-intentioned individual might unintentionally violate the letter of the law, he said.
“That’s where we use common sense as well as our training,” Greer said. “Our job is to enforce laws, and we will always do that, but we also consider the human factor…enforcement can often be an opportunity to educate, not simply to punish.”