KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon/PINA, Jan. 7) - Law enforcement officers of Palau's Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection want to carry firearms, citing the danger they face from poachers when performing their duties.

Kammen Chin, division chief, said he has sent letters of requests to Swenny Shiro, director of the Bureau of Public Safety, and Justice Minister Michael Rosenthal.

"We receive a lot of threats," Chin said. "We face a lot of dangerous people in our line of work, and they are armed with machetes, air guns, spear guns and spears."

The division has seven officers, including Chin. They are requesting approval to carry pistols and rifles.

Said Chin: "We often go out at night when it is really dark in the forest and in the waters, because that’s when hunters and poachers conduct their illegal trade. Sometimes we hear gunshots coming from .22 pistols and even shotguns. We have to equip the officers if we want to improve the protection of the environment.

Aside from firearms, Chin said the division also needs night vision goggles and binoculars.

The division has apprehended individuals involved in poaching, illegal hunting and illegal harvest of protected marine and land species.

January 8, 2003

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