BUSSONE NAMED WILDLIFE OFFICER OF THE YEAR
Compassion, dedication puts officer in elite company
PRATT — Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) natural resource officer Jim Bussone, Arma, has been honored with the Shikar-Safari Club International Wildlife Officer of the Year award. Bussone received the award in recognition of efforts above and beyond activities normally associated with game wardens.
In nominating Bussone for the award, Region 5 Law Enforcement Lieutenant Keith Rather said, "Year after year, Officer Bussone completes two or more times what is required of him. He organizes and participates in hunter education classes, Becoming and Outdoors-Woman events, and Women On Target shooting skills events. To date, 245 women have been through his region’s Women On Target program. Plus, he’s designed and presented programs to help women and young mothers identify poisonous plants, snakes, and spiders, with the goal of learning how to live with wildlife.”
Rather describes one incident that displays Bussone’s character, compassion, and willingness to help people while protecting the state’s natural resources.
“One night during deer season, Officer Bussone saw a flash of light in some trees. He turned a corner, and his headlights revealed a little boy standing at the side of the road. The boy disappeared into the ditch, so Jim drove to that location and lit up the area. In a field entrance was a small truck, and in front of the truck was a man with a small doe deer, no bigger than 80 pounds on the hoof. Jim asked the guy what he was doing besides killing deer. The guy told Jim that his family and kids were hungry. When asked for his license and permits, the guy told Jim he didn’t have any and told a story about being laid off, his wife being laid off and pregnant, having five kids and no utilities, and having no money and being at the end of his rope.
“After loading the deer and writing a ticket, Jim followed the guy to his house. It was a shambles, inside and out. There were no lights, and a wood stove was heating the house.
“Jim talked with some local people and learned that the guy was caught in a bad spot, but his pride wouldn’t let the people around make him a welfare case. Jim had some deer meat that had been seized earlier in the season and had been released for disposal, so he took a box of meat to the guy. Jim told him to never poach again but that if he was in a jam to let him know, and he would help him get deer meat. Later, Jim asked some local waterfowl hunters if they would bring the man some ducks or geese, which they did.”
And Bussone’s assistance didn’t stop with food.
“Jim asked several people to see if they could help the man find a job,” Rather explained, “and he soon had one and paid his ticket. When Jim saw the man after the incident, he shook Jim’s hand and apologized. Jim had sent a message that he was there to help just as much or more than to write tickets and take people to jail.”
Each year, Shikar-Safari honors one officer that each state believes has done the most outstanding job in enforcement of their game laws, protection of wildlife, and implementation of conservation programs. The group also provides a $20,000 death benefit for all recipients of Wildlife Officer of the Year award killed in the line of duty.
Formed in 1952, the Shikar-Safari Club International was formed as a social hunting organization but soon recognized its potential to contribute to conservation efforts. In 1973, the Shikar-Safari International Foundation was formed to raise money for various conservation efforts throughout the world.