Ranger in a Strange Land
Violence Against Federal Lands Employees on the Rise
As if the current assault on the environment weren’t bad enough, it turns out that attacks on those responsible for protecting nature are on the upswing, too. Threats and violence against federal land management employees rose substantially last year, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Attacks on U.S. Forest Service employees were up 20 percent compared to 2001, while threats and attacks against U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees increased 9 percent. Violent attacks against National Park Service rangers decreased slightly, from 104 incidents in 2001 to 98 in 2002. NPS blames the violence on three factors: drug farming on public lands, immigrant smugglers, and urban sprawl that has edged crime areas closer to park borders. “When park rangers are 10 times more likely to be assaulted than agents of the DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] and 12 times more likely than FBI agents, a reasonable person would say the agency needs immediate change,” said Randall Kendrick, director of the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.