Federal employees in national parks, wildlife refuge and even marine sanctuaries suffered more attacks and threats in 2012 than in the previous year, according to agency figures obtained by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Reported incidents rose more than 40 percent in wildlife refuges and in areas patrolled by the U.S. Park Police and by more than 12 percent in national parks.
The year began with the shooting death of Mount Rainier National Park law enforcement ranger Margaret Anderson on Jan. 1, 2012 in Washington State. She was only was the ninth ranger killed in the line of duty since the National Park Service was founded in 1916. A park ranger was last killed in 2002, at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona, while chasing drug traffickers.
Drugs and alcohol appeared to play a role in a large number of incidents which included .
- In September, a Bureau of Land Management worker was shot at while driving a Bureau vehicle;
- A fleeing subject attempted to run over a U.S. Park Police officer with his car; and
- A visitor center for a wildlife refuge received a note with profane racist remarks and a threat to burn the center down.
Unfortunately, violence and abuse directed against public servants is becoming more common, stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that factors cited by employees include conflicts over resource protection policies, growing use of public lands for meth labs and marijuana plantations as well as deeper penetration of backcountry by off-road vehicles. The figures do not show any clear pattern reflecting liberalized loaded firearm rules in national parks and refuges which went into effect in 2010. The saying ‘its not easy being green is becoming truer with each passing year..