Agents in Action
A frustrated farmer wants to know how to catch the animal that has been eating the heads off his emus, and several people complain about a den of foxes that are killing neighborhood cats.
The two agents begin with the fox problem and call neighbors to get additional information. Next, they make a conference call to Jim Braithwait, Conservation Department wildlife management biologist in Camdenton. "Well, we have many different options for removing the foxes," Braithwait says. The three decide they need more information, so they plan to meet the following day to look at the den and talk to more neighbors.
It is now almost 11 a.m. and Raisch has completed his paperwork for the morning. He gathers his notebook and leaves for the Boone County Courthouse to deliver several court summonses.
Raisch says he enjoys his job. However, like any job, it has a downside. "A lot of activity takes place on weekends, so I only end up getting one weekend off per month," he says. "And that can be difficult with a family." Agents also must have offices at home with listed phone numbers, which means that people call late at night with questions.
"Having a home office can make it difficult to get away from work, but after 16 years, I have learned to deal with it," he says. "Conservation agents do a lot of good and that makes it such a worthwhile job."
In 1905, Missouri had 40 politically-appointed game wardens and 5,000 special deputy wardens who worked temporarily for $4 a day. Today, Missouri has over 150 conservation agents--certified peace officers who enforce the wildlife laws throughout Missouri and state laws on lands owned and operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Their duties are varied and include conducting hunter education classes, appearing on television and radio programs, writing newspaper and magazine articles, providing educational programs for schools and clubs, acting as information specialists for the public and patrolling for illegal fishing and hunting operations.
A 65-year-old man sits on a cardboard box, his fishing line dipping in the Missouri River. His daughter and grandson stand next to him, attaching bait to their own lines. As David Guntli, conservation agent in St. Charles County, approaches the family, the woman checks her pockets and pulls out a fishing permit. "Hi, have you caught anything?" Guntli asks the family of three. They shake their heads.
The woman hands Guntli her fishing permit. "I'm sure