Tuesday, September 16, 2008
All Access: Wildlife Officers
Florida Fish and Wildlife officers patrol our waterways to make sure we are following the rules of the seas, but these cops cover a lot of ground too. Seven's Dave Kartunen has an All Access pass.
WSVN -- They patrol Florida's waterways. At any given moment a call can come in.
Erik Sullivan: "We got a call from an off duty police officer."
Today, an off duty police officer lets them know he saw someone harvesting Florida lobsters illegally.
Erik Sullivan: "He came back around, and that's where he was at."
And these officers have to investigate.
Erik Sullivan: "He had seen a diver in the water catching lobster, wringing the tails, which is a violation."
The fisherman had allegedly removed the tails from the lobsters and thrown the heads overboard.
Erik Sullivan: "If they've wrung the tails, there's a good chance we'll find that, as long as the current hasn't taken it."
But these officers are in charge of more than fish, they also train to protect our waterways from terrorists.
Today's practice mission monitors illegal activity on land. Lt. Christian Rodriguez heads up the Special Operations Group or SOG, Fish and Wildlife's version of a SWAT team.
Lt. Christian Rodriguez: "We specialize in man-tracking. We specialize in waterborne assaults, water borne activities and anything that happens in the woods."
We follow them on a reconnaissance training mission...
Lt. Christian Rodriguez: "You may come across a boat with somebody running drugs, or somebody smuggling illegal aliens into the country."
... where they deploy into the water, swim to land, assault the beach, but even training gets interrupted by someone doing a bad ting.
Jorge Pino: "They're not supposed to be in this area. This is the lobster sanctuary. They're lobstering in this area with no dive flag."
So while some officers went on with training, others went back to investigate.
Jorge Pino: "They have several violations on board the vessel that we're going to have to address right now."
It's all in a day's work for these guys called to protect Florida's precious resources.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission