By Thomas Moriarty
On a dark October evening near Lakeside, Levi Harris eases his dark blue Chevy Silverado onto the shoulder of a narrow gravel logging road.
Carefully stepping out of the truck, he sets his binoculars on the truck’s center console and pulls on a waterproof, camouflage jacket.
It’s deer season, but the veteran Oregon state trooper isn’t hunting for a big buck — he’s looking for poachers.
Harris, 36, is the senior fish and wildlife trooper at the Oregon State Police Coos Bay Area Command.
As one of two full-time troopers at the office with both fish and wildlife enforcement responsibilities, he’s part of the last line of defense for the state’s game animals.
An elite group
The agency maintains approximately 110 full-time troopers in its Fish & Wildlife Division, whose operations are primarily funded by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.
Those troopers are overseen by regional supervisors in Salem, Central Point and Burns, and assigned to OSP area commands throughout the state.
The Coos Bay command technically has four fish and wildlife troopers, but one of them is a supervisor, and another position is federally funded solely for marine fishery enforcement.
Harris said OSP commands along the coast tend to have better year-round staffing of fish and wildlife troopers than those east of the Cascades because of fishery enforcement needs.
Division personnel go through the same academy training as their patrol counterparts at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training in Salem. More....