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Controlling the Wilderness: The Work of Wilderness Officers

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Ideologies having roots in the legal structure of the system of wildlife protection characterize the work culture of the Pennsylvania wilderness officer. This paper examines these ideologies and the characteristically strong social solidarity of the community of wilderness officers. Wilderness officers are both law enforcement agents and conservationists. They mediate between human and animal as well as between what is considered scientific management and what is considered unenlightened and even lawless behavior. In performing this boundary work, wilderness officers participate in the social construction of the science of land management, which views animals as renewable resources. The wilderness officer's job is to insure the continuation of this resource as a part of the natural heritage of Pennsylvania and the United States. The wilderness officer's concept of "animal" becomes a byproduct of this social construction and of the culture of hunting that supports it. The rural upbringing common to many officers suits them ideally to their task.


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