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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. By 2016 a Pew Charitable Trusts study found that on BLM lands alone, hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing generated $264 million in sales, 1,830 jobs, $78 million in salaries and wages, and $29 million in tax revenue.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) is responsible for the protection and management of the state’s natural treasures, all of which is handled by an elite group of 43 Game Wardens who work for the law enforcement division of the NDOW.

In May of 2019, Nevada game wardens working with their counterparts in Utah discovered new evidence that led to a felony arrest for a 2016 cold case killing of a large mule deer buck in Lincoln County. That came on the heels of another mule deer buck poaching case that saw two brothers brought into custody on 27 combined charges for wildlife violations that included felonies committed near Jackpot in the northeast corner of the state.

Game Wardens 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

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reports the average fish and game warden salary in Nevada was $61,800 in 2016.

For 2016 the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reports that Fish and Game Wardens at the top of their field earn $80,767 annually or $38.70 per hour (top-90th percentile), and those in the top-quarter of their field earn $70,728 annually or $33.89 per hour.

There are four incremental salary steps for Game Wardens in Nevada. Below are their titles and respective salary ranges as provided by the Nevada Department of Administration in 2018:

 

Game Warden 1

Annual Salary: $43,827 to $64,686 | $20.99 to $30.98 (hourly)

 

Game Warden 2

Annual Salary: $49,777 to $73,956 | $23.84 to $35.42 (hourly)

 

Game Warden 3

Annual Salary: $54,329 to $80,972 | $26.02 to $38.78 (hourly)

 

Game Warden 4

Annual Salary: $59,236 to $88,698 | $28.37 to $42.48 (hourly)

 

Staff Game Warden

Annual Salary: $61,888 to $92,885 | $29.64 to $44.49 (hourly)

 

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation projects that in the decade leading up to 2026 the number of Fish and Game Warden jobs in the state is going to increase by 15.8 percent.

 

Game warden job classification levels, pay grade information, and 2016-2026 growth projections sourced from the Nevada Department of Administration. Average salary figures sourced from the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of employment andfor workers at all levels of education and experience. It does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.

All data accessed in July 2019.

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