The Algona Upper Des Moines from Algona, Iowa on November 7, 1967 · Page 26
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The Algona Upper Des Moines from Algona, Iowa · Page 26

Algona, Iowa
Issue Date:
Tuesday, November 7, 1967
Page 26
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buzz of the car's engine, and they became suddenly alert as the approaching drone of the automobile began to slow and then was silent. They stepped out onto the highway in time to see the car's head- mechanism. This "matching" would show a court that the rifle had been in the suspects' car. * And that is just what happened when the case was heard. Microscopic markings in the shells and the gun were shown to match so A FAR CRY FROM "POPPLE COPS it lights sweep the shoulder of the road, and then,they heard the echoing blast of a gun. "Let's go!" one of them- said; and together they ran to their car; and, with headlights off, they drove toward the automobile down the road. They were a quarter of a mile from the car, when it turned around suddenly and began to move away. "He must have spotted us," the driver said, and with this he flicked on his lights and tromped the accelerator down. The distance between the vehicles closed rapidly, and when it was only a few hundred feet, the driver of the rear automobile switched on a red light that blinked a flashing signal into the night. Instead of stopping, however, the car ahead darted suddenly away. "Hang on, he's going to run," the driver of the red-blinking vehicle said. He turned on a siren that wailed across the still night, and he reached for a radio hand mike that hung from the dashboard. The speed of the vehicles climbed to 80 miles an hour, then to 90, then to 100, and slowly the lead car pulled away. The automobiles hurtled through the darkness; and in the distance the lights of a town began to show. The radio messages that had flashed on ahead had done their job, and the chase ended on the edge of town where police cars had hastily set up a road block. The participants in the abruptly ended chase were two deer shiners and two conservation wardens. The wardens moved now to the car they had pursued and placed the occupants under arrest. They advised the arrested men of their rights under the law, and then took them to the county jail. The men denied shining deer, pointing out that they had no guns in their car. They were correct in that their vehicle contained no guns when it was stopped, but there were empty rifle cases and unfired rifle cartridges on the floor of it; and the two conservation wardens went to work to build their case. Back out the highway they drove, this time very slowly. Several miles out of town they found the shattered remains of a rifle beside the road. They picked up the pieces carefully, using handkerchiefs so that fingerprints would not be disturbed. Then they drove out to where the chase started. On the shoulder of the road, a large deer lay dead. It was a doe, and the wardens hoisted it into the trunk of their car and drove back to town. It was just beginning to get daylight, a faint hint of light put the spruce tops in silhouette. The wardens were tired. They had been up all night, and there would be only a few hours of sleep now before they would have to be down to the district attorney's office to begin the long process of prosecution against the suspected deer shiners. And in this day of zealous protection of individual rights, the prosecution must be done right or the warden is left without a case. The next day they dusted the broken rifle for fingerprints, and carefully packaged and marked all other items of evidence, including the cartridges that had been found in the car, and the fragments of bullet that they had cut out of the deer carcass, They took the items downstate to the state crime laboratory where ballistics experts went to work to match the cartridges and shell casings with markings from the rifle's barrel and extractor precisely that there could be no doubt about them having been in contact. "Guilty," the court said, and the deer shiners each paid heavy fines to avoid jail sentences. They also lost their fishing and hunting privileges for a year. As the wardens walked from the courtroom, one turned to the other and said, "I've got to give a gun safety demonstration for the junior rifle club tonight, but I'll meet you after it's over and we'll work the northwest corner for a few hours." "Fine," his companion replied, "I'll have time before we go to check a couple of traplines." The wardens went their separate ways, tending to the endless tasks that the modern conservation officer is faced with. A far-cry from the first "popple cops" who were solitary upholders of sketchy and often resented fish and game laws, the modern warden is a man of many talents. His conservation role has mushroomed until almost every element of the community looks to him for service and help at one time or another. Though he is basically a lawman, he devotes an ever increasing amount of his time to public relations. The intent of this is to educate the public, particularly the young public, as to the importance of sound conservation programs. These programs include growing complexity in fish and game laws, and it is the ambition of every warden to do all he can to prevent a law violation. "We would rather not have to make any arrests," a top midwest warden said, "and we feel that our efforts to this end are really paying off. Every year we get more and more cooperation from the public. "People realize that with more and more demands being made on fish and game, laws must be designed to protect wildlife accord : ing to species and habitat variations. "And they also realize that the violator of these laws is taking something away from them when he shoots illegal game or catches fish in an unlawful manner. ^ "It is the duty of every citizen to understand and obey conservation laws, and most of them do so and resent the fellow who doesn't." But despite the best efforts of conservation officials, there shall always remain the intentional violator. He is frequently a rough and ruthless individual, and the warden force records show countless instances of warden injury and even death when he is brought to bay by the badge. The wardens consider such risks to be part of the job. Long, cold hours of watching and waiting are also part of the job. , It was to do some of this uncomfortable watching and waiting that the two wardens stood again in the frigid, black night. A car eased slowly past them. They watched it from behind a screen of underbrush. The automobile turned off into a lonely logging road. Quietly the wardens eased up behind it where it had stopped and parked. There was a muffled conversation with the car's occupants, and then the wardens retreated to their car and drove away. "Well," one of them said, "you can't tell the lovers from the deer shiners unless you talk to them." "That's right," said the other, "How are we to know?" The wardens drove off into the night.

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