- Associated Press - Saturday, June 13, 2015

BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) - A new program approved this week will allow South Dakota State University to become only the fifth higher education institution in the country to offer a degree to become game wardens and conservation officers.

The South Dakota Board of Regents this week approved the Natural Resources Law Enforcement degree program. The program will train students to work as park rangers, conservation officers, game wardens and federal wildlife officials, the Capital Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1IBJsE6 ).

Conservation officers need more specialized training than traditional law enforcement officers, said Andy Alban, the law enforcement program administrator for the Game, Fish and Parks Department.

“Our officers continue to stay involved with conservation and wildlife management,” Alban said. “It’s not just checking licenses.”

Programs often include classes on fish biology, mammal biology and land management in addition to constitutional law and criminology, Alban said.

The regents say only four institutions nationwide offer comparable programs to the one they approved this week. Research presented to the board found 50 percent of state wildlife agencies nationwide had openings in conservation law enforcement and that there were more than 100 federal positions open as well.

The new program at SDSU is expected to produce 20 graduates a year once it’s implemented.

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Information from: Pierre Capital Journal, https://www.capjournal.com


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