The local cops were stymied. A well-armed perp had fled into a densely wooded area in Polk County after a traffic stop. The first pursing officers were ambushed, resulting in the killing of one officer and his K-9 and the wounding of another deputy. S.W.A.T. teams responding to the call-out could contain and control the situation—but who had the skills to comb the many square miles of rough Florida terrain where the perp was undoubtedly lying in ambush?

15The experienced deputies of the FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) SOG (Special Operations Group) arrived and teamed up with the local officers, who welcomed the woodsmanship expertise and mantracking skills the SOG brought with them. Soon the green-clad SOG, armed with 5.56 M4s, Remington Marine 870s and 9mm Glocks organized the local law enforcement agencies into cordon-and-search teams to sweep the area.

Deep in the woods, one of the experienced SOG trackers patrolling through the wilderness noticed a miniscule difference between a spot of brush and the surrounding foliage. No one else saw a thing. Alerting his fellow deputies, he challenged the hidden perp to come out and surrender. The fully camouflaged cop-killer was astonished that he had been found. His response was violent and resulted in a brief exchange of gunfire that left the gunman dead, but the officers unharmed. Their job done, the FWC SOG trackers returned to their usual jobs of singularly patrolling the vast and lonely expanses of Florida’s wildlife and wetland areas.

Keepers Of The Coastline
More than 700 officers from the FWC Division of Law Enforcement maintain a presence across the more than 31,000 miles of tidal coastline, canals, rivers and streams and three million acres of lakes and ponds in the state. The officers provide protection to residents and visitors who enjoy Florida’s many natural resources, while enforcing resource protection of over 1,300 wildlife, fresh and saltwater fish species. Their responsibilities include not only enforcement, but education to ensure that visitors who enjoy Florida’s natural resources follow all hunting, fishing, boating and resource-protection rules. The Division operates four large offshore patrol vessels stationed in Key West, Carrabelle, Port Canaveral and Crystal River. The vessels concentrate on large offshore fisheries such as the Tortugas Shrimp Sanctuary, Pelagic (upper level, open sea) Fish and fish trap enforcement. The crews on these boats often conduct extended patrols that last several days to enforce federal law within the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) that extends from state waters out 200 nautical miles from the outermost point of the United States.

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