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How to Become a Fish and Game Warden in Wyoming

Wyoming offers a full range of outdoor landscape and activities, and is one of the most beautiful states in the US. The state is a plateau with many mountain ranges—the eastern third makes up the far western edge of the Great Plains and the remaining two-thirds are covered with mountain ranges and foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains. Mountains, valleys, rivers, forests, as well as prairie make up the topography of the state.

Fish and game wardens in Wyoming, usually referred to simply as game wardens, enjoy interesting and challenging jobs. Wyoming is one of the largest states in terms of size—almost 98,000 square miles. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department maintains and administers over 400,000 acres of land, including streams, lakes, and road right-of-ways. The department is responsible for more than 800 species of wildlife and fish, including approximately 100 that are considered game species for hunting and fishing purposes.

 

Wyoming Game and Fish Department Job Requirements

Bachelor’s Degree Requirement:

The minimum requirements of education and experience to become a game warden in Wyoming include a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent combination of training and experience) in one of the following fields of study:

  • wildlife management
  • range management
  • biology
  • zoology
  • ichthyology

Those with a bachelor’s degree must have four years of experience in wildlife or fish resource management, research of habitat development, and enforcement of wildlife laws and regulations. Preference will be given to applicants with a master’s degree in one of the above fields of study plus two years of work experience.

Applicants for game warden jobs in Wyoming must pass the Game Warden Examination, including a written test of basic wildlife management knowledge, plus undergo oral interviews, psychological testing, and completion of a personality profile. Applicants must have a valid driver’s license.

Wyoming State Law Enforcement Academy:

Once applicants are selected, they undergo a 13-week Peace Officer Basic Training Course at the Wyoming State Law Enforcement Academy. They must also pass the basic physical fitness standards (based on age and gender), which consist of four areas:

  • Aerobic capacity (cardiovascular endurance)
  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Body weight/composition

The physical fitness assessment includes a one-minute sit-up test, one-minute push-up test, and 12-minute walk/run. There will be an entry assessment and a final assessment at the end of the training course.

Interested applicants can find out more information at the Game and Fish Career Home website.

Important Skills and Knowledge:

Game wardens in Wyoming utilize a diverse skill set, knowledge base, and physical strength. They must:

  • be in excellent physical condition
  • have good interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills
  • know basic wildlife ecology, species identification, and habitat management concepts
  • be familiar with game and fish statutes and regulations
  • know a variety of outdoor skills, including horseback riding
  • attain proficiency in the use and care of firearms
  • have a working knowledge of computer software and hardware
  • be able to use, maintain and repair equipment used for their job
  • be able to create and follow a budget and write reports

 

Becoming a Federal Fish and Game Warden

Almost half of the land in Wyoming is owned and/or managed by the US Government—a total of over 30 million acres. The state of Wyoming owns almost 4 million acres. Much of the government-owned land is in the form of national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, historic sites, or recreation areas.  These include:

  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
  • California National Historic Trail

The US Fish and Wildlife Service operates seven national wildlife refuges in Wyoming, including the National Elk Refuge, which provides a winter home for almost 8,000 elk as well as other high country animals. The Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge on the Green River hosts a variety of habitats, including those of more than 200 migratory and resident birds.

US Fish and Wildlife Special Agents operate out of offices in Cody and Lander in Wyoming. They are trained law enforcement officers whose responsibilities include enforce Federal wildlife laws throughout the United States. They target crimes against wildlife resources such as trafficking and habitat destruction and protect endangered and threatened species.

Typical Tasks Game Wardens in Wyoming Perform

Although one of the primary responsibilities of game wardens in Wyoming includes enforcing hunting, fishing, trapping, and boating laws, game wardens also collect biological data, work with landowners for hunting access, help landowners resolve problems such as crop damage or loss of livestock due to wild animals, and respond to injured and nuisance wildlife calls. Game wardens are law enforcement officials, and as such, are tasked with assuring compliance of rules, regulations, and statutes. Game wardens can issue citations and warnings, make arrests, prepare reports, and testify in court.

Game wardens spend approximately one third of their time enforcing fish and wildlife laws, one third concentrating on wildlife management, and the final third interacting with citizens through customer service, public relations, and educational activities.

Wyoming is home to several big and trophy game animals such as

  • Bighorn sheep
  • Black bear
  • Mountain lion
  • Antelope
  • Deer
  • Elk
  • Bison
  • Moose
  • Grey wolf

One of the most important duties is preventing and solving wildlife crimes, such as illegally killing a big or trophy game animal. Wardens create and set big game seasons, which provide hunters the opportunity to enjoy their sport as well as alleviate damage to both the natural habitat and domestic lands caused by overpopulation.

Wyoming State Parks offer breathtaking scenery and recreational opportunities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and boating. Each section of the state has several state parks and historic sites.

  • Northwest: Buffalo Bill and Sinks Canyon State Parks
  • Southwest: Bear River State Park  and Fort Bridger Historical Site
  • Northeast: Keyhole State Park and Trails End Historic Site
  • Southeast: Curt Gowdy and Seminoe State Parks
  • Central: Edness K Wilkins State Park and Fort Fetterman Historic Site

Several rivers also flow through the state, including the Snake River, Yellowstone River, Green River, Shoshone River and North Platte River. Common game fish in Wyoming include:

  • Lake trout
  • Golden trout
  • Largemouth and Smallmouth bass
  • Northern pike
  • Black crappie

Game wardens in Wyoming also tackle these problems facing wildlife:

  • ongoing drought conditions
  • energy development
  • invasive species
  • disease


Wyoming Wildlife Officer Salary

In Wyoming, game wardens are employed by the Wyoming Game & Fish Department. As of 2013, the starting salary for fish and game wardens in Wyoming was $42,768 according to the Department. This can increase with time and experience until reaching a maximum of $50,304.

Of course, there are higher level career positions which game wardens can aspire to that will inevitably increase their annual income.

Below is a listing of career opportunities and respective salaries among game wardens in Wyoming (Wyoming Game and Fish Department, 2013):

Game Warden

  • Minimum: $42,768
  • Maximum: $50,304

Senior Game Warden

  • Minimum: $54,828
  • Maximum: $64,500

Game Warden Supervisor

  • Minimum: $60,012
  • Maximum: $70,596

Game Warden Program Manager

  • Minimum: $60,012
  • Maximum: $70,596

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