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Park rangers face increase in assaults

WASHINGTON — Park rangers, wildlife refuge workers, and US Park Police experienced more assaults and threats from visitors last year than in 2011, according to a group that represents federal resource workers.

A total of 591 incidents were reported by six land and water agencies in 2012, up 38 percent from the previous year, the group says. More than one-quarter of the incidents involved some sort of violence against the employee or officer, according to the report by the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

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More than half of 100 reported incidents against US Park Police involved violence, the report said, including an incident where a suspected drunk driver tried to run over a police officer.

The report, to be released Monday, is based on figures obtained from the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other agencies.

The report says 2012 began violently, with the New Year’s Day shooting death of a park ranger at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state, the first ranger killed on duty in a decade.

That same month, a note was a left at a Texas wildlife refuge visitor center that included racist remarks and a threat to burn down the center. In September, someone took a shot at a land management worker driving an agency vehicle at an Arizona recreation area. Other incidents include assaults on law enforcement officers, resisting arrest, and threats of violence.

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