Peach State has a Ranger shortage - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Peach State has a Ranger shortage

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March 25, 2008

Adel - DNR Rangers are part naturalist and part police officer.

They perform everything from search and rescue to solving environmental crimes.

But the department doesn't have the resources to recruit and retain employees.

They say that directly affects their response time and forces them to rely more heavily on other law enforcement agencies.

The Department of Natural Resources is doing some prescribed burning in Cook County, including many DNR rangers.  But seeing a group as large as this is few and far between.

"You've got guys who have their one county assignments but because we are shorthanded, we've got guys who cover two to three counties," says Brooks County DNR Ranger Jon Penuel.

Right now, the Rangers are stretched thin.  About 30 rangers short.

The department has faced several years of budget cuts and is now loosing many experienced rangers to higher paying jobs. 

"They can make better pay in city, county, state and federal governments and you can't blame them for that," Penuel says.  "Once you've lost those people who have been here for years, you've lost that experience."

Making it tough on the ones that are left to answer the call of duty.  "With fewer people, the resources aren't there so we may have to come from two counties over. But you'll always get a response. It might just take someone a little time to get there."

Faced with a severe staffing shortage and reduced resources, the department is now appealing to local government to get the help they so desperately need and begin recruiting and retaining more rangers around the state.

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