Fish and game wardens patrol natural areas like forests and lakes, and enforce hunting, fishing and boating laws. They investigate complaints and accidents, prevent poaching and out-of-season hunting, and conduct search-and-rescue efforts. Fish and game wardens also work with environmental scientists on projects to preserve wildlife and their habitats. They inform the public on conservation efforts, regulations and staying safe in natural environments.
Duties and responsibilities
- Patrol assigned natural areas by car, ATV, boat, airplane, horse or on foot
- Enforce hunting, fishing or boating laws
- Preserve and protect natural wildlife and their habitats
- Investigate hunting accidents, property damage caused by wildlife and reports of fish or game law violations
- Issue warnings or citations as necessary
- Serve warrants and make arrests
- Seize illegally taken or possessed fish and wildlife and any equipment used in violations
- Compile evidence and present in court proceedings when required
- Suggest changes to hunting, trapping and fishing regulations to help maintain wildlife balances
- Issue licences, permits and other documentation related to fish, game, land and waterways
- Relocate injured or dangerous wildlife to ensure public and animal safety
- Collect samples and biological information on fish and wildlife for study and conservation programmes
- Coordinate with environmental scientists on studies, conservation programmes and public education
- Address schools, clubs and other organisations about regulations and safety in natural environments
- Disseminate information on conservation, safety and laws through various forms of media
- Provide park and reserve information and lead hunter and trapper safety training
- Collaborate with other law enforcement divisions and participate in search-and-rescue operations
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
On a rota
Fish and game wardens work in a variety of outdoor environments, from remote wilderness and vast waterways to parks and campgrounds in more densely populated regions. You will likely deal with extreme temperatures, weather conditions and difficult terrain. Fish and game wardens are at risk of animal attacks as well as potentially dangerous human encounters.
Warden jobs are typically full-time, but shifts can include nights, weekends and holidays. You will collaborate with others on certain tasks, but be prepared for a lot of solitary work.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Bachelor's degree in wildlife science
Qualifications for fish and game wardens can vary, so check with the appropriate state or federal agency for specific requirements. Most require a bachelor's degree in a related subject like wildlife science, biology or natural resources management. Some states prefer a degree in criminal justice. The US Fish and Wildlife Service allows applicants with less education if they have experience in a related field.
Most state and federal agencies require academy training. Since fish and game wardens are law enforcement officers, you’ll need similar training in areas like self-defence, firearms and investigation. Advanced programmes can include instruction in arrest procedures, field exercises and emergency response.
At the start of your career, you’ll work closely with an experienced warden and receive on-the-job training.
Fish and game wardens have many opportunities for continuing education and training in a variety of subjects related to their work. Gaining additional skills, knowledge and applicable degrees can put you in line for promotions and leadership roles. Relocating to a different state or a federal position can also open up new opportunities.