Each year Pennsylvania wildlife conservation officers (WCOs) check thousands of hunters, trappers and game land users for compliance with wildlife laws. These officers enforce laws intended to keep people safe, protect personal property and conserve Pennsylvania’s wildlife resources.
A compliance check by a wildlife conservation officer is an opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to have positive interactions with officers while in Penn’s woods. Officers can explain laws and describe outdoor opportunities and conditions in the surrounding area.
These are things that you can do to help ensure your experience with an wildlife conservation officer is a positive one:
Wildlife conservation officers check hunters for firearm safety and compliance with hunting regulations. When approached by an officer, you are expected to follow all basic firearms handling rules.
- DO NOT attempt to load or unload your firearm while being approached by an officer.
- Point the muzzle of your firearm in a safe direction away from the approaching officer.
- Make sure your safety is on. Keep your finger away from the trigger.
- Comply with all instructions directed to you by the officer.
Wildlife conservation officers may stop motor vehicles at checkpoints used for gathering statistics and enforcing wildlife laws. In addition, officers have the authority to stop motor vehicles for violations observed on Pennsylvania’s highways.
An officer may direct a stop of the vehicle either by signaling a stop with a body gesture or through the use of emergency lights and/or siren. Wildlife conservation officers will identify themselves while in uniform or by providing a badge or state law enforcement officer credential.
When signaled to stop by a wildlife conservation officer please do the following:
- As soon as safely possible, bring your vehicle to a complete stop and allow the officer to approach you. Failure to stop for an officer may result in criminal prosecution, significant fines and arrest.
- Be courteous and follow any directions given by the officer pertaining the vehicle inspection. Your cooperation will expedite the inspection process.
You can help make your interactions with wildlife conservation officers positive by having a courteous attitude. By promptly complying with all requests as directed by the officer, you can help ensure a safe, pleasant and productive experience. You can also take advantage of the opportunity to ask the officer for advice and valuable tips.
-This text has been adapted from Warden Courtesies with permission from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.