Fish and Wildlife Game Warden: Job Description and Requirements
Law enforcement personnel dedicated to the protection of wildlife and natural resources are called fish and wildlife game wardens. They're generally assigned to a specific geographic location and regulate fishing, hunting and pollution in that area. Prospective fish and game wardens must qualify for and complete a training program.
Fish and wildlife game wardens work for state and local governments. They specialize in the enforcement of laws and regulations governing hunting, fishing, pollution and trapping of animals. Wardens carry firearms and wear uniforms that identify them as peace officers.
Fish and wildlife game wardens are sworn peace officers who may enforce all other laws of the government that employs them. They may issue warnings and citations, as well as confiscate items and arrest persons associated with a suspected infraction. Wardens patrol their assigned area, monitoring for violations and investigating reported problems. They might also inspect operations, such as fishing companies, for compliance with state or federal regulations. Wardens may be called to help law enforcement officers in other areas in times of need.
Game wardens perform various other duties. They collect and catalogue evidence for cases of suspected infractions, write incident reports and testify in court regarding cases they have worked. They also participate in hunting education and licensing, take part in rescue operations and investigate reports of crop damage due to wildlife. They may also conduct training for fish and game warden cadets. Wardens also collect data and report on the state of wildlife and the environment in their area.
Becoming a fish and wildlife game warden involves several steps. First, individuals need at least two years of college coursework, some of which may need to be in biology and law enforcement, in order to be eligible to take a qualifying exam. Qualifying exams often involve a written test along with a physical ability component that tests strength and endurance.
Following this exam, warden applicants become eligible to attend a fish and game training program. These programs provide education in fish and game law, applicable life and physical sciences, emergency rescue training and peace officer training. Successful completion of a training program is the last step to becoming an official fish and wildlife game warden.
In 2012, fish and game wardens made an annual mean salary of $49,400, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The highest-paying metro areas for these professionals at that time were Tallahassee, FL; Nashville, TN; Phoenix, AZ; Baltimore, MD; and Providence, RI. In each of these locations, fish and game wardens earned an average of more than $67,000 per year, as per BLS data.
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