Connecticut’s game wardens have a much expanded role today than their predecessors did only a decade ago. Known officially as Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police Officers, the state’s modern game wardens still carry out their traditional duties. However they also regularly provide backup to law enforcement units, including the Coast Guard, to assist with crimes including assaults, narco-trafficking, and domestic disputes, among others.
To mount an effective response against these challenges, EnCon officers complete an extensive law enforcement training program alongside police officers from departments across the state, and are also deputized by the following two federal agencies to enforce federal regulations as needed:
- National Marine Fisheries
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Joining the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Minimum Requirements – The state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) oversee game warden jobs in Connecticut.
This is the agency that also sets the minimum game warden requirements for hire, which are:
- Be a US citizen at least 21 years old
- Have the equivalent of a high school education
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Have a good moral character
- Be in good physical shape
- Know how to swim
To become a game warden with the DEEP, candidates are hired as trainees. Before advancing to a full-ranking EnCon officer, new hires will need to have three years of experience working as a law enforcement officer with the DEEP. Two of these years may be substituted with two years in any of the following:
- College education in:
- Natural Resource Management
- Recreation Management
- Biology and Biological Sciences
- Law Enforcement
- Previous sworn law enforcement experience
- Previous experience dealing with wildlife conservation, commercial shellfishing, forestry, farm management, or fish culture
- Strayer University - Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice
- Michigan State University - Online Master of Science in Law Enforcement Intelligence and Analysis
- Saint Joseph's University - Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice
- Utica College - Online Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice
- Penn Foster - Online Wildlife and Forestry Conservation Career Diploma
Applying – Completing an application to become a fish and game warden is done by signing up to take an exam for Environmental Conservation Police Officers. It is important to monitor the state’s examination listings for when these are posted. When an exam date is posted, applications can be submitted in several ways:
- Mailing one to the Department of Administrative Services; Statewide Human Resources Management; 165 Capitol Avenue Room 404; Hartford 06106-1658
- Dropping one off at any Connecticut Job Center
- Faxing an application to the Department of Administrative Services at (860) 622-2840
The exam will cover information that is pertinent to EnCon officers as well as basic reading, writing, and problem solving abilities. Candidates can begin studying for the exam by reading relevant material regarding environmental laws and regulations on the DEEP website, as well as information detailing the duties of the state’s EnCon officers.
Those who score well on the exam and distinguish themselves in the initial application may be invited to continue in the hiring process which will include:
- Medical exam and drug test
- Psychological evaluation
- Background investigation
Officer Training – Game warden training begins with 818-hours of basic training at the state police academy in Meriden. EnCon trainees will train side-by-side with fellow officers agencies from all across the state. These initial 20+ weeks will cover the law enforcement segment of a game warden’s training, including:
- Connecticut criminal law
- Search and seizure
- Firearms training
- First responder medical assistance
- Mechanisms of restraint and control
- Physical fitness
- Criminal investigations
- Crime scene processing
- Motor vehicle maneuvers
After completing the basic police academy EnCon trainees will become certified law enforcement officers. Next will come specific game warden training over a period of up to one year. This will cover:
- Boating safety
- Personal Watercraft Certification
- National Marine Fisheries courses
- US Fish and Wildlife Service courses
- Examination of licenses, permits, and equipment
- Winter observations
- Lease agreements
- Wildlife rescue
- Hunting and trapping laws
Federal Game Warden Careers in Connecticut with the U.S. Fish and
Besides deputizing state game wardens, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also employs its own version of a game warden, officially termed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agents. These federal game wardens work alongside their state counterparts in Connecticut as needed, and additionally manage federal land under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, such as the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge just east of New Haven on the Menunketesuck River.
Applicants apply for federal game warden jobs with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service online if they are US citizens between the ages of 21 and 36. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management or Criminal Justice are preferred.
Initial training takes place at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia for 20 weeks. Following this foundational instruction on wildlife law enforcement and criminal investigations, new game wardens will be assigned to an experience field officer for another 44 weeks of on-the-job training.
Game Wardens Stop Poachers in Connecticut
While public education, school outreach, and law enforcement backup are all important functions of game wardens in Connecticut, EnCon enforcement officers are widely known as being the men and women of the law who catch poachers. These illegal hunters steal the state’s wildlife resources from the law-abiding public. Some recent cases have included:
- The arrest of four Massachusetts men on deer bow poaching charges in the Sharon Mountain area
- The arrest of two men in Stonington after game wardens discovered they had caught three times their limit of striped bass
- The arrest of a man in the Charter March Sanctuary on charges of baiting deer and hunting with a handgun during archery season, all while under the influence of alcohol
- The arrest of five people along the coast on charges relating to illegal fishing for glass eels, which can sell on the black market for up to $600 per pound
Connecticut Wildlife Officer Salary
Like their counterparts throughout the country, the Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police of the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection’s Law Enforcement Division enforce fish and game laws. But these professionals also enforce laws and regulations related to boating, motor vehicles, criminal activity, and public safety. They also back up state and municipal police departments in incidents involving narcotics enforcement, domestic disputes, and assaults and are the primary response unit for the U.S. Coast Guard.
Given this expanded job description, it’s no surprise that Connecticut’s EnCon police earn an average salary of $62,879, according to the Connecticut Department of Labor (1Q 2018), which is about $5,000 more than the national average.
The average, entry-level salary for these professionals is $49,608, while the top 10% earn a salary of $64,480.
Salary data compiled by the Connecticut Department of Labor – https://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of employment for environmental conservation police officers. Data represents state salary ranges for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
Salary data accessed in July 2019.