Martha SparksSociety Editor
September 14, 2012
CHIEF LOGAN STATE PARK – Investigating a hunting-related shooting incident can be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. Forty wildlife officers from 16 states will participate in a 40-hour specialized hunting related shooting incident investigation training at Chief Logan State Park Lodge September 16-20.
The Hunting Incident Academy will be taught by a highly experienced cadre of nine instructors from seven states. They represent more than 350 years of experience and more than 2,000 hunting-related shooting incidents investigated and reviewed. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Section (WVDNR) and the International Hunter Education Association’s (IHEA) are the hosts.
The academy, the only one of its kind, provides skills, knowledge, techniques and confidence to state and federal wildlife officers in the investigation of hunting-related incidents. The IHEA is keenly interested in the proper collection, documentation, and analysis of this important data. Wildlife law enforcement officers who are already experts in investigations in outdoor landscapes will improve their investigative techniques.
“The academy is designed to train commissioned wildlife officers on how to properly investigate and document hunting related shooting incidents,” said Lt. Tim Coleman, state training officer for the WVDNR. “State Hunter Education administrators then review and analyze the collected data. What they learn is applied to classroom and media outreach efforts to aid in the prevention of hunting incidents.”
Lt. Coleman is the “point man” for the academy, promoting this specialized training and bringing it to West Virginia. Also supporting the training are WVDNR Director Frank Jezioro and Col. David Murphy, Chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Section.
“Having the academy at Chief Logan State Park will provide both inside and outside classrooms needed to present this intensive curriculum,” said Coleman. “Other states that have requested to host the academy in the future include Alaska, New Mexico, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Alabama.”
Attendees of previous Hunting Incident Investigation Academies have learned to collect detailed information that has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of fatalities and injuries from hunting-related shooting incidents. A national clearinghouse database has been created to store data collected from each IHEA member jurisdiction. Standardized reporting forms have been developed so that complete and uniform data can be analyzed. The IHEA has also adopted a standardized definition of a hunting-related shooting incident.