US National Park Service mourns the loss of park ranger Margaret Anderson

19 January 2012 | News story

Park rangers protect the natural areas that we all enjoy and benefit from – sometimes risking paying the highest price, as is demonstrated by the tragic incident that just recently occurred in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington:

Park ranger Margaret Anderson, 34, was shot on New Year’s Day while on duty. She set up a traffic block to stop a car that had passed an earlier checkpoint violating some winter driving regulations. The driver opened fire, killing her, and then fled into the woods. His body was found dead in the park the next day.

Margaret Anderson leaves behind a husband, who is also a ranger, and two young girls. Nearly 3,000 people attended the memorial service on 10 January. Even though she was only the 9th ranger killed on duty in the history of the US National Park Service, the numbers have increased over the last 20 years.

In other countries around the world, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, rangers have to face even greater danger on their job, arising not only from the risk associated to their work in the wild but often from humans; particularly in a pace of armed conflicts and difficult anti-poaching operations. The great risks that rangers such as Margaret Anderson and her colleagues worldwide take to protect our nature should not be underestimated. They are protecting places that contribute to the health of the planet and therefore benefit all of us. These “guardians” of an increasingly threatened nature deserves society’s respect and highest recognition.