Conservation Officer  What They Do

Just the Facts


Insider Info

dotConservation officers are also sometimes called game wardens and wildlife or natural resource officers. They are the law enforcement officers of the great outdoors.

dotThey're responsible for managing and protecting wildlife and water resources. They patrol parks, lakes or other wildlife areas to enforce fish and wildlife laws (like hunting and fishing regulations) and answer questions regarding animals or wildlife habitat.

dotOther duties include pesticide control, parks management, wildlife research, fighting forest fires and capturing animals in residential areas.

dotConservation officers also investigate serious crimes occurring in wildlife areas. Poaching, impaired driving, assaults and drug trafficking crimes may all fall under a conservation officer's jurisdiction. Duties can vary depending on the state in which they work.

dotThis is a good job for people who enjoy the outdoors and have an interest in hunting, fishing, hiking, boating and snowmobiling. Officers are active for most of the day, so people in this field must be physically fit.

dotConservation officers do spend part of their time indoors. "Anytime you do any law enforcement, there's a lot of paperwork. I spend one day out of five in the office," says Nebraska conservation officer Dina Hopper Lincon.

dotDue to the nature of this work, conservation officers often set their own hours and may be on call 24 hours a day. Officers have to plan their work schedule around times when their services will be most needed, since illegal hunting and fishing usually don't happen during set hours.

"In the summer, I often start at about 1 in the afternoon and work until 11 at night. It just depends on when the action occurs. Often I get a call in the middle of the night," says conservation officer Duncan Douglass.

dotConservation officers may work for state or federal governments, parks or international agencies.

At a Glance

Manage and protect wildlife and water resources

  • There is a growing awareness of the importance of wildlife and environmental conservation
  • You could work for state or federal governments, parks or international agencies
  • A combination of biological and law enforcement education is helpful