New Jersey has benefitted from fish and wildlife law enforcement since 1871; the origins of today's Bureau of Law Enforcement was in 1892 when the commission form of wildlife administration was initiated. Three commissioners were appointed, and the first salaried Fish and Game Protector was hired. The Division of Fish and Wildlife now employs 55-60 Conservation Police Officers statewide as New Jersey's professional law enforcement agency dedicated to the wise use of the state's natural resources.
Conservation Police Officers are uniquely qualified to enforce wildlife laws and regulations, educating and informing the public in the process regarding the rules, laws, procedures and management practices involving the recreational and commercial uses of fish and wildlife resources to ensure the protection of the environment. As sworn law enforcement officers, Conservation Police Officers have authority to enforce all of the laws of the state and the federal government enacted for the protection and management of natural resources and other related environmental enforcement activities (see below). Their primary responsibilities are enforcing laws that protect New Jersey's wildlife and its habitat.
Uniformed Conservation Police Officers are the division's most visible representatives and contact thousands of resources users annually. Officers serve the citizens of NJ by informing, educating, and redirecting the actions of wildlife users ensuring compliance with state, federal natural resource laws as well as the policies of the Division. Conservation Police Officers spend countless hours in the field in order to safeguard the health and well being of the state's precious natural resources.
Inland and Marine units serve to prevent abuses to the environment and help people maximize their enjoyment and benefits of wildlife in a safe and ethical manner. NJ's Conservation Police Officers' proactive approach to enforcement helps maintain a healthy balance within the ecosystem. Officers actively patrol the natural areas of the most densely populated state by vehicle, boat, ATV and foot to help balance the lawful harvest of fish and game animals with public safety.
While there has been continued development and suburban sprawl in New Jersey, along with more comprehensive laws and regulations enacted addressing the legal taking of fish and wildlife, the Conservation Officer's responsibilities have remained constant for more than 100 years. Conservation Officers, in addition to being members of the oldest law enforcement agency in the New Jersey, are regarded as some of the best trained, most knowledgeable and highly dedicated law enforcement officers in the state.
Each month, Conservation Police Officers average about 7,000 hours of duty time, conduct 3,500 inspections and initiate 315 enforcement actions. This equates to approximately 84,000 hourrs, 42,000 inspections and 3,780 enforcement actions per year.
New Jersey Fish and wildlife regulations are based on Permanent Statute Titles 23, 39, 50, 58, 2C-Code of Criminal Justice, and the Administrative Code N.J.A.C. 7:25 et. seq.
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Annual Internal Affairs Summary (pdf, 155kb)