Wildlife officers are on the lookout for Arkansas youth, and they have a sweet treat in store for those they “catch” enjoying the outdoors in a healthy way, according to the Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Newsletter.


Because of a continued partnership with Sonic restaurants, members of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Enforcement Division are outfitted with a special book full of ice cream “citations” they can hand out to youths during their daily activities. These tickets can be turned in to any participating Sonic Drive-in to claim a free ice cream cone for the child.


Col. Greg Rae, chief of the AGFC’s Enforcement Division, says the program has been in place since 2012, and has really helped people recognize wildlife officers as more than just men and women who write tickets for hunting and fishing violations.


“In Arkansas, our officers have the same police authority as a state trooper, and we are called to assist in many cases that branch out from what would be considered typical wildlife law enforcement,” Rae said. “They’re part of the communities where they live.”


Rae said the program’s roots stem back to boating safety efforts.


“The promotion began as a way to encourage people to wear their life jackets, but we’ve seen so much good come from it through the years that we expanded it to include any youth we see engaging in healthy outdoors activities and being a positive role model,” Rae said.


Officers even had the opportunity to pass out some of these vouchers when they were asked to assist state and local police departments in security details during last week’s protests, according to the newsletter.


“We had more than 50 of our officers assist last week in everything from security details at the state capitol to responding to calls of gunshots near one of the protests that were unrelated to the gatherings,” Rae said. “While they were working, our officers took the time to reach out to some of the young people in the crowd.”