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Behind the Badge: DWR Officer James Thomas patrols Utah’s hunting grounds

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SPRINGVILLE (ABC4 News) – Most law enforcement officers are used to dealing with dangerous subjects but Officer James Thomas knows every time he goes on patrol he might encounter a bear, a cougar or a moose.

As a conservation officer for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, he’s looking for any illegal activity in the wilderness.

“As a game warden we’re looking for the person who goes out and poaches,” Officer Thomas said. “Finding people that are going out and illegally killing animals…we’ll go up and investigate the animal, find how the animal was killed, location, anything like that.  If there’s any ballistics then we can usually run those ballistics and try to find out rifles. It’s mostly interviewing and talking to people.”

Like his older and twin brothers, Officer Thomas is a former Marine. He served four years of active duty, including two deployments in Iraq.

“Mostly just doing building clearing and searching,” Officer Thomas explained. “You can handle stress very easily.”

That experience translates over to patrolling the mountains alone in his pickup.

“You gotta be ready for any situation,” Officer Thomas said. “We’re dealing with hunters right so we’ve got to expect that mostly everyone is going to be armed and that’s kind of the mindset we go into ‘Hey they’re going to be armed’ how do we deal with the situation?”

The husband and father of four has been on the job for six years and says he can’t imagine doing anything else.

“Who would want to be in an office all day?” he asked. “Our office is outdoors, this is what we do.”

Officer Thomas won’t be patrolling the mountains all by himself for much longer. This fall he’s going to be assigned a K-9 partner. 

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