The mission of the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society (NAFWS) is to assist Native American and Alaska Native Tribes with the conservation, protection and enhancement of their fish and wildlife resources. A large portion of that mission is to support Tribal conservation law enforcement activities throughout the United States.
Approximately 300 certified Conservation Law Enforcement Officers (CLEO) are employed in Indian Country and are primarily responsible for the enforcement of natural resource regulations within their respective areas. However, in many Tribal departments, officers also regulate other non-resource related violations such as traffic, drug, and domestic violence crimes; and they often support search and rescue operations or other community policing situations where necessary. Theoretically, one can conclude that each officer is responsible for the enforcement of hundreds of regulations in an approximate area of 187,333 acres.
Funding to support CLEO programs varies among the many Tribes and those variances have a direct impact on the continued success of individual departments. The majority of conservation law enforcement funding is allocated to cover employee salaries, benefits, and routine operations. Money for officer equipment and training may sometimes be limited or nonexistent, which could possibly jeopardize the safety of the officer or the safety of those whom they are sworn to protect.
Funding for CLEO training is critical for officers to maintain their certifications as sworn peace officers, but more importantly to protect them and others from the everchanging risks they encounter daily. Additionally, officers must be afforded sound and advanced equipment to carry out their duties effectively and without concern for failure.
NAFWS, therefore, supports CLEOs on a national level with direct expenses associated with virtual and in-person law enforcement training for officers to successfully meet their mandated training requirements; and/or with other specialized leadership, instructional and officer safety events. In some instances, the NAFWS will also consider supporting the purchase of equipment deemed necessary to conduct natural resource law enforcement in a safe and efficient manner.
It has and will continue to be the mission of the NAFWS to champion the enhancement of fish and wildlife resources throughout Indian country for the benefit of each Native community and their future generations.