Mississippi’s shortage of state troopers has received much attention over the last year, but a shortage of conservation officers — game wardens, as they used to be known — is also drastic and likely to get worse.

“If we were to place the 22 cadets we have in training into the field today, we would still be 43 officers short,” said state House Wildlife Fisheries and Parks Chairman C. Scott Bounds, R-Philadelphia. “We have 37 counties with only one officer and two counties with no officer.

“They are expecting three retirements on Dec. 31, and about a third of the force is eligible for retirement,” Bounds said.

Sen. Giles Ward, chairman the Senate Wildlife Committee, said the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks is “woefully understaffed” even after lawmakers early this year approved $2.7 million to add 22 officers, now in training.

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