Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

Love Wildlife? Become a Warden

If you are passionate about wildlife, then you probably want to protect it. Lucky for you, there is a job out there that requires you to do just that. Game wardens are state and local officials who enforce laws dealing with the trapping, fishing, and hunting fishing, of wild animals.

These law enforcement officers don’t patrol the streets within their jurisdiction, but patrol forests, parks, lakes, rivers, and beaches. They make sure that hunters, fishers, and trappers meet licensing requirements and assist in wildlife management duties such as conducting surveys to count game animals like deer, elk, and antelope. Since humans are not the only victims of crime, crimes committed against wildlife require wardens to conduct detailed investigations to solve them. Through the use of evidence, such as fingerprints, ballistic, and DNA, wardens can help prosecute those who commit crimes against nature or illegally kill wildlife. Along with these types of authority, game wardens typically have the authority to enforce general laws and can arrest individuals for crimes like driving or operating a boat under the influence of alcohol.

If spending your days protecting the great outdoors sounds more like a vacation than a job, being a game warden might be the job for you. While specific requirements vary from state to state, most require applicants to be U.S. citizens, at least 21 years old, have a valid driver’s license, and no felonies on their record. Most states require applicants to have completed a bachelor’s degree and course work related to the field of resource conservation and management, such as criminal justice, fish and wildlife management, parks and recreation, natural resource conservation, and environmental science. Since the job of a game warden requires physical activity, applicants are also usually required to meet minimum hearing, vision, and fitness requirements.

If hired you will be required to complete a training program, which typically will last anywhere from three to 12 months. These programs include courses in wildlife and resource management, fish, physical training, civil defense training, homeland security, first aid, and water rescue. These programs also educate you about important laws, such as the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, and law enforcement and tactics. As a game warden you will do an extensive amount of work outdoors, sometimes in hazardous weather conditions and natural disasters. Along with routine duties, you will have to be prepared to work in stressful situations with people who are injured, violent, or emotionally upset.

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