What Does a Wildlife Conservation Officer Do?

Wildlife conservation officers, also known as game wardens, enforce fishing and hunting laws, protect indigenous wildlife and direct wildlife programs. Find out typical duties, education requirements and salary. Schools offering Environmental & Social Sustainability degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Job Responsibilities Could I Have as a Wildlife Conservation Officer?

Wildlife conservation officers ensure that hunting, fishing and gaming laws are obeyed. Depending on the territory you're assigned to work, you might patrol lakes and wetlands or enforce hunting areas. You may work in state parks or in commercial and recreation spots. To get around, you may utilize cars, horses, boats or airplanes to patrol your assigned areas.

In some cases, you'll have the authority to issue warrants and citations, and to arrest individuals who violate fish and game regulations as well as federal and local laws. For example, you might take individuals into custody who were boating or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, illegally hunting wildlife or violating traffic laws. You may be required to investigate hunting accidents and claims of hunting or fishing violations. Other responsibilities may include protecting ecosystems and plants, participating in search and rescue missions and studying wildlife habitats.

What Do I Need to Study?

High school coursework that may help you prepare for a career as a wildlife conservation officer are biology, natural resources, computer applications, chemistry, algebra and environmental science. At the minimum, you'll need to obtain an associate's degree in wildlife management, wildlife law enforcement or environmental science.

These degree programs allow you to study topics such as applied chemicals, wildlife botany, wildlife law and policy, fishery management and wildlife management techniques. Some of the wildlife law enforcement programs you may take include criminal investigation, forest skills, report writing, criminal evidence procedures, park ranger training and wild land recreation management.

You may also be required to take environmental science courses such as forest ecology, wildlife ecology, rivers and streams and earth science. Upon completion of your educational training, you must complete enroll and complete a training or peace officer academy to obtain your law enforcement training.

How Much Could I Earn?

According to PayScale.com, conservation program officers earned between $37,771 and $63,637 in March 2011. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports federal fish and game wardens earned average annual salaries of $55,950 in May 2009 (www.bls.gov). Those who worked for state government earned wages of about $56,220.

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