If you don’t find enough excitement in other conservation careers, then maybe you should consider becoming a Conservation Officer. They are charged with protecting our natural resources, promoting recreational safety, and enforcing environmental protection regulations and laws. So the job covers a lot of outdoors and environmental areas. Admittedly, the job isn’t for everyone. As you’ll see in the video, the job can be physically demanding, and may even be dangerous at times. But on the flip side it can also be very rewarding protecting our fish and wildlife resources.
The terms conservation officer and game warden are often used interchangeably but a conservation officer does a lot more nowadays than just enforce “game laws”. Today’s conservation officer is a trained and licensed law enforcement officer who is charged with upholding all sorts of conservation and environmental laws, protecting nature, and helping people with wildlife interactions.
As you’ll see in the video here, some conservation officers work for a state government (New Mexico) and patrol specific areas within the state, while others work for the federal government and may work in a larger, multi-state region. At the state level, most work under the Department of Natural Resources or a similarly named department such as the Division of Game & Fish. Conservation officers may also work in state parks and nature reserves or may patrol wetlands, lakes, rivers, beaches, and other areas.
Any job working with the public and those who break the law can be both exciting and demanding. Conservation officers are often outdoors in all types of weather, including heavy rains, snow, heat, and at night. Conservation officers often work alone, and depending on the needs of the department, may work overnight, on weekends, and on holidays when more people are interacting with natural resources.
The duty of a conservation officer is to uphold the law and to provide assistance to people in need. Though that’s a broad description, here are some of main things conservation officers do in their jobs:
- A conservation officer is authorized to enforce all laws and regulations within the jurisdiction of their state in addition to the fish and game, conservation, and recreational regulations. As a certified law enforcement officer, they have the power to write citations, issue fines, and arrest people who violate the law.
- Conservation officers may conduct surveillance to identify violations and catch the violators who are breaking the law. This is especially true of situations involving wildlife poaching, or hunting and fishing in environmentally sensitive areas.
- They can also search vehicles with probable cause and seize evidence when necessary. Conservation officers are professionally trained how to preserve evidence, including how to handle biological evidence and how to use digital photography to record evidence from crime scenes.
- Conservation officers may also be asked to investigate complaints such as pollution, animal attacks, illegal hunting, and other conservation violations. Almost any issue that involves wildlife or nature can be handled by a state or federal conservation officer.
- Like game wardens, conservation officers are charged with conducting safety training courses for hunters. They also hold safety and training workshops on recreational vehicle use and other outdoor activities.
- Like many conservation professionals, conservation officers need to write reports and work with other professionals in implementing the various aspects of a state or regional conservation or wildlife management plan.
The final question is are YOU interested in a career as a Conservation Officer? To help answer that, watch this video, have your teacher use the free classroom lesson activities below and click on the Learn More tab below.
This wildlife education program is made possible with support of these key educational partners. You and your teachers can link to their websites for additional information and educational opportunities.
At SCI Foundation’s American Wilderness Leadership School location in Jackson, Wyoming, educators and students learn about conservation, wildlife management, and outdoor recreation through outdoor, hands-on activities. Their Hands on Wildlife (HOW) program provides educators with conservation education instructional tools they can use in hands-on instruction.