The responsibility of enforcing laws related to hunting and fishing in the United States falls on the nation’s game wardens. On the surface it may sound like a fairly uneventful job but the truth is that game wardens face dangers that are inherent to the job on a daily basis. Their position involves investigating accidents, property damage complaints, and environmental damage that occurs on their jurisdictional territory.
But there are particular elements of the job that are at best disadvantageous, and at worst downright dangerous including:
- Game wardens are often required to hike through very rough terrain in order to track poachers or assist in search and rescue assignments. This requires them to be physically fit and mentally sharp. Also, game wardens are often required to perform their duties in very remote areas where communication may be challenging and backup can be slow in arriving.
- Game wardens are often exposed to hash weather conditions as they spend a tremendous amount of time outdoors. They are usually equipped with comfortable sport utility patrol vehicles or all-terrain vehicles to carry out their duties, but they are required to use these vehicles to conduct stakeouts and search and rescue operations during which they are often exposed to bitter cold or extreme heat and heavy rain, sleet, and snow.
- During hunting season, game wardens are at risk of being shot by stray hunter’s bullets. A recent case in Sacramento, California involved a veteran game warden being hospitalized with serious injuries after he was struck in the hand by a shot fired by a hunter. Bullet fragments entered the warden’s neck and he was forced to radio for help and wait until assistance arrived.
- Most often, when a game warden faces gunfire it is by accident but there are times when he or she is forced to confront a potentially dangerous suspect for violation of hunting and fishing laws.