Game wardens are the law enforcement officers of the State and Federal Fish and Wildlife Agencies. They perform many duties. Chief among them is the enforcement of the laws meant to preserve and protect wildlife.
What Do Game Wardens Do?
Game wardens patrol all sorts of terrains, from wetlands to deserts to metropolitan areas. Most of the time they work alone, but they will work with a partner or other officers during a large operation. They patrol their assigned area on foot, but sometime the terrain demands that they operate vehicles such as jet boats, airplanes, canoes, and all-terrain vehicles. While on patrol game wardens will warn, cite, and arrest individuals who have been caught in the act of violating the law. They will also seize the equipment, fish, and game connected with the violation. Along with the authority to arrest individuals who violate the law, game wardens have the authority to set fines as they see fit under gaming regulations and code.
When a game warden makes an arrest, he will make a written report that states the violation and what occurred during the arrest. This report will be used as evidence in a trial. The game warden will have to testify at this trial. At which point, he will be asked to verify what’s written in his report and will have to answers questions posed by the court.
Game wardens will sometimes work with biologists and environmental scientists to study the wildlife in an area. When working alongside these professionals, game wardens will capture wildlife, gather information on their condition, and report it back to them. They will also document wildlife counts, keep records of trends in wildlife travel, measure pollution or investigate problems with fisheries. This data is then analysed and used to better understand how a local habitat is changing and how people have impacted that change. Analysis of this data may also produce information that’s used to guide the direction of regulations such as hunting season dates, fishing limits, or bag limits, and may potentially be used by environmental planners or environmental policy managers to address broader issues involving conservation and commercial practices.
Game wardens have an intimate knowledge of the terrain they patrol. If a person goes missing within his assigned area, a game warden may be called in to assist the search and rescue party. In these situations, his knowledge of the area may shorten the length of the search. Game wardens may at times stumble across individuals who are in distress. It is his duty to assist those persons. Sometimes this means directing them back to camp or to the nearest station. Other times the distressed individual is in the midst of a medical crisis, and the game warden may need to administer first aid.
Game wardens are responsible for issuing hunting and fishing licenses for those who apply and are qualified for such a license. For those who have a license, but may be inexperienced, game wardens provide hunting safety courses. They also have the authority to revoke these licenses if the circumstances requires that action.
Game wardens play another important, but less known function: They promote education programs. Game wardens will visit with schools, civic groups, youth groups or sportsmen’s clubs or speak at sporting or conservation events to discuss regulations and laws related to hunting and fishing. They meet with farmers to distribute newly published environmental and ecological information or to warn landowners about habitat issues that may affect their land.
Sometimes a wild animal may venture onto private property and cause damage to facilities and other areas. When this happens game wardens are brought in to investigate the damage and capture the animal. They’ll trap the animal, and release it to an area where it won’t be a threat to people or property.
How Much Do Game Wardens Make?
The average game warden earned an annual income of $54,970 as of 2015 with the top 10% earning an average annual salary of $6,510. Employment within the profession is not set to increase much in the coming years. This is because budgetary constraints prevent the government from hiring new staff or filling vacant positions.