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About DNRs new law enforcement division
Hill Jack
Sen. Jack Hill

In 2013, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources created the new Law Enforcement Division to consolidate the law enforcement and public safety activities previously performed by various DNR divisions. The Law Enforcement Division focuses on enforcing hunting, fishing, boating, and environmental laws, as well as promoting public safety on all DNR properties, such as state parks.

Consolidation allows law enforcement operations to be more streamlined, establish a clearer chain of command, and employ more standardized training, equipment, and policies.

The new Law Enforcement Division is organized into seven districts. The north, middle, and south regions of Georgia are each divided into two districts, totaling six across the state, with a seventh district along the Georgia coast.

Protecting Georgia’s wide range of resources

Under the unified Law Enforcement Division, DNR law enforcement personnel patrol over 37 million acres, 110 wildlife management areas, 65 state parks and historic sites, 12,000 miles of rivers, and 100 linear miles of shoreline.

In fiscal year 2014, DNR personnel performed 54,828 checks on hunting and fishing licenses and 27,160 boat checks. DNR personnel led 2,759 educational programs, including 1,075 programs on hunting and 315 on boating safety. DNR also performed 547 search-and-rescue operations, with 344 on water and 203 on land.

Recently, the Law Enforcement Division became one of only ten other organizations nationwide to achieve accreditation on the Boat Operations and Training (BOAT) program.

The Law Enforcement Division houses the Investigative Unit, the Special Permits Unit, and the Aviation Unit. The Investigative Unit works with conservation rangers to investigate all hunting and boating incidents that led to serious injury or a fatality, and works with Conservation Rangers on cases of criminal misconduct.

Other investigators in a specialty unit of Marine Theft focus on stolen or abandoned marine vessel property. The Special Permits Unit oversees licensing for capture of wild animals for scientific research and other purposes, and the licensing of special commercial harvesting arrangements. Special commercial harvesting in Georgia includes alligator farming, fox hunting preserve and turtle collection.

The Aviation Unit performs aerial surveys to detect hunting and boating violations such as night alligator hunts, night deer hunts, and illegal shrimping along the coast. County surveys are also performed to detect baited fields, baited duck ponds, and a variety of other violations. They monitor endangered wildlife in conjunction with the DNR Wildlife Resources Division, and assist in search-and-rescue operations. Aviation activities in FY14 involved 958 flight hours.

DNR plans to complete the transition to a unified Law Enforcement Division by Aug. 1, 2018. Within the course of the transition period, law enforcement personnel must decide whether to transfer to the new Law Enforcement Division, transfer to another state agency, or retire. With the transfer of 221 positions from the DNR Wildlife Resources Division in FY14, most law enforcement personnel have transitioned to the new division.

Some POST-certified employees have chosen to delay their transfer to the Law Enforcement Division so that they may become vested for additional benefits. POST certification authorizes law enforcement personnel to carry a firearm and arrest law violators, and the certification provides additional fringe benefits after 10 years of service in POST-certified position.

Many new positions in the Law Enforcement Division will not be POST-certified positions, so these individuals with several years of service are waiting to become vested in POST benefits before transferring. In most cases, the specific duties of law enforcement personnel do not change with the transfer to the new division, and no service interruptions have occurred throughout the restructuring.

Hunting seasons for the fall

Statewide archery season for deer came in Sept. 12 and goes through Oct. 9. The firearms deer season statewide starts Oct. 17 and runs through Jan. 10.

The firearms bear season for the southern zone comes in Sept. 24 and out on Sept. 26, and again on Oct. 1-3 and Oct. 8-10. Squirrel season is in now through Feb. 29, limit 12 per day. Alligator season by permit goes out Oct. 5 — quota, one per permit. Opossum season goes from Oct. 15-Feb. 29 – no limit. Raccoon comes in Oct. 15 and stays in till Feb. 29 — limit 3 per day. Rabbit season comes in Nov. 14 and goes out Feb. 29 — 12 per day.

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