Steve Vinnedge, a Montana game warden stationed in Great Falls, has won a prestigious wildlife law enforcement award for his professional efforts, including promotion of a program to reduce fraudulent purchase of licenses.
Vinnedge recently received the Pogue-Elms award from the Northwestern Wildlife Law Enforcement Association, comprising wildlife law enforcement entities throughout the western and northwestern United States as well as Canadian provinces. The award is named for two Idaho game wardens killed in the line of duty. Vinnedge received the award at a law enforcement workshop in Boise in January.
Vinnedge's investigative techniques have led to numerous large-scale license fraud cases, involving people throughout the United States, who unlawfully purchased Montana resident hunting and fishing licenses.
"Steve is viewed by Montana game wardens as the colleague to contact if they need any assistance with license fraud investigations," says Warden Captain Terry Hill in Great Falls. Vinnedge recently conducted a license fraud training school for his fellow FWP wardens, Hill continued, and trained many of the wardens hired by Fish, Wildlife & Parks over the last two years in license fraud investigations and the use of computers as wildlife enforcement tools.
Vinnedge, an 11-year veteran with FWP, was stationed in Billings and Colstrip before assuming his duties in Great Falls. Besides his investigative prowess, Vinnedge assists with hunter education programs for adults as well as youths and provides wildlife education programs in Great Falls schools.
Since 1993, Vinnedge has promoted initiation of a computerized licensing system for Montana's state wildlife agency that, in addition to streamlining the licensing process for license buyers, license agents and FWP, would facilitate license fraud investigations. FWP is currently seeking the 1997 Legislature's authorization to establish such a system.