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How to Become a Fish and Game Warden in Nevada

Nevada has a highly diverse landscape and an array of big game species.  Hunting is a popular sport in the state, and as far back as 2001, hunters contributed over $246 million to the state’s economy.

Both state and federal game wardens protect the wildlife in Nevada.  This includes monitoring that hunters are seeking out big game in the right areas and investigating poaching and other types of wildlife crimes.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) is responsible for the protection and management of wildlife and fish in the state.  The revenue for most of its conservation efforts comes from the following sources:

  • Sportsmen’s licenses and conservation fees
  • A federal surcharge on fishing and hunting gear

The elite group of 34 game wardens that work for the law enforcement division of the NDOW have a demanding job enforcing the state’s laws.  Their efforts have not gone unnoticed.  In early 2014, one of the state’s premier game wardens received an award for Professional of the Year from the Western Section of the Wildlife Society.

State game wardens in Nevada usually start their jobs in the southern part of the state where they receive training in the following areas:

  • Patrolling boats
  • Protecting wildlife, including bighorn sheep
  • Issuing violations for fishing and big game hunting

As they gain experience throughout their careers, an individual fish and game warden for the NDOW may be responsible for covering as much as 10,000 square miles.  In some remote areas, the state game warden may be the only law enforcement official in the area.

Requirements to Become a Game Warden in Nevada

State Game Wardens for the NDOW

Educational Requirements:

    • A four year college degree in one of the following or a related area:
      • Criminal justice
      • Wildlife biology

 

  • Law enforcement experience can be substitute for a degree

Extensive Background Check:

  • Drug screening
  • Polygraph test
  • Psychological screening

Federal Game Wardens for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Basic Requirements:

  • Possessing U.S. citizenship
  • Age requirement:
    • At least 21
    • Younger than 37
    • Possessing a valid driver’s license
    • Selective Service System registration (if appropriate)

Educational Requirements:

  • Having a four year degree in a field such as:
    • Wildlife management
    • Criminal justice

Training Requirements:

    • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FELTC):
      • Criminal investigations
      • Wildlife law enforcement

 

  • Field Training and Evaluation Program
    • At the first post of duty

 

Activities of State Game Wardens in Nevada

Protecting Wildlife:

  • Patrolling fish and wildlife
  • Conducting investigations
  • Apprehending poachers
  • Investigating and prosecuting the following activities:
    • Tag fraud
    • Residency fraud
    • Hunting that is over the limit or taken illegally
    • Participating in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact Program

Public Safety:

  • Patrolling boats and investigating accidents
  • Investigating hunting accidents
  • Enforcing outstanding warrants
  • Search and rescue
  • Providing backup to other law enforcement
  • Enforcing OUI/DUI
  • Assisting motorists
  • Responding to conflicts between humans and wildlife
  • Homeland security
  • Maintaining navigational aids

Community Stewardship:

    • Providing information to the public about outdoor activities
    • Attending the following types of activities:
      • County Advisory Board meetings
      • Bighorn sheep indoctrination
      • Hunter safety

 

  • Assisting with the following:
    • Issues of disease
    • Trapping relocation
    • Habitat restoration
    • Stocking fish
    • Surveys

 

Operation Game Thief

NDOW game wardens are also involved in the state’s confidential hotline for wildlife violations.  Known as Operation Game Thief (OGT), this 24 hour a day service lets people remain anonymous when they report crimes against wildlife.  The NDOW issues the tipster a unique number that he or she can use to obtain status reports and eventually collect a reward if one has been offered.

Common violations in Nevada include the following:

  • Being in the wrong area for hunting big game
  • Failing to punch the tag immediately after the animal has been reached
  • Keeping a loaded gun in a vehicle

More serious crimes are committed in Nevada, including the poaching of big game.  This crime is a felony in Nevada.  OGT offered rewards for two such crimes that were committed in 2013.


Nevada Wildlife Officer Salary

As reported through the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation’s online information portal, the average fish and game warden salary in Nevada was $59,410 in 2013. This compares favorably to the national average of $48,070 as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor that year. In fact, the average salary among fish and game wardens in Nevada surpasses the national average by nearly 20%.

Here are those salaries by percentile, as provided by the Nevada Workforce Informer in 2013:

Average: $59,410 ($28.56/hour)
75th Percentile: $68,494 ($32.93/hour)
90th Percentile: $74,651 (35.89/hour)
There are four incremental salary steps for game wardens in Nevada. Below are their titles and respective annual salaries as provided by the Nevada Workforce Informer in 2013:

Game Warden 1

Annual Salary: $38,523.60
Game Warden 2

Annual Salary: $43,639.20
Game Warden 3

Annual Salary: $47,606.40
Game Warden 4

Annual Salary: $51,865.92
Staff Game Warden

Annual Salary: $54,204.48
Chief Game Warden

Annual Salary: $81,007

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