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How to Become a Fish and Game Warden in New Hampshire

Game wardens with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department are certified law enforcement officers, referred to as conservation officers. As of 2018, 47 of them worked throughout New Hampshire, averaging out to about one for every 200 square miles.

In addition to enforcing wildlife laws, conducting search and rescues, and identifying hunting and fishing violations, conservation officers serve as backup for law enforcement from other agencies. Doing all this requires the right gear, which is why the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department assigns conservation officers their own four-wheel drive truck, snowmobile, boat, ATV, laptop, smartphone, weather-appropriate clothing, and state-of-the-art equipment.

These tools certainly come in handy. With every passing year comes incidents that require the help of wardens; from injuries and ATV accidents, rescuing lost hikers at night, and serving as first responders to emergencies that occur in the state’s vast wilderness, all while enforcing wildlife laws and investigating crimes related to poaching and natural resource theft.

How to Become a Game Warden with the New Hampshire Fish and
Game Department

Since fish and game wardens in New Hampshire are certified law enforcement officers, the requirements to join the state’s Fish and Game Department are quite rigorous.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Be 21 years old by the time of the date on the job announcement
  • Have good vision:
    • Uncorrected:  at least 20/40 in each eye
    • Corrected:  20/20
    • Normal perception of color

 

  • Have normal hearing without the help of a hearing aid
  • Be willing to accept an assignment anywhere in the state

Educational/Experience Requirements:

  • No experience and one of the following educational backgrounds:
    • An associate’s degree
    • 60 credit hours

 

  • A high school education and two years of the following experience:
    • Certified police officer
    • Full-time military service with an Honorable discharge

Examinations during the Application Process:

  • Written test
    • Must score at least 70%
    • Examines the following types of knowledge:
      • Fishing, hunting, and trapping techniques
      • Basic orienteering, boating
      • Off-highway recreational vehicles
      • Wildlife identification and management

 

  • Physical test
    • Running 1.5 miles in 12:00 min. or less
    • Treading water for 15 min.
    • Swimming 200 yards in 7 min. (without dog paddling)
    • Dragging a 185 pound sandbag for 75 feet (without stopping)
    • Carrying a 35 lb. pail and a 20 lb. backpack
      • Up 22 sets of stairs five times without stopping

 

  • Oral board
    • Knowledge and skills
    • Judgment
    • Presentation
    • Critical thinking
    • Discretion
    • Maturity

After the Offer of Conditional Employment:

  • Psychological exam
  • Medical exam
  • Polygraph test
  • Thorough background investigation

Obtaining Law Enforcement Certification

Once hired, applicants who are not already certified LEOs must become certified as one within the time frame of the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council.

Becoming a Federal Game Warden in New Hampshire

Federal game wardens join the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement.

Basic Requirements:

  • Be from 21 to 36 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Have registered with the Selective Service (if appropriate)

Educational Requirements:

  • A four year degree in a field such as:
    • Wildlife management
    • Police science
    • Criminal justice

Training Requirements:

  • Law enforcement training at the federal level:
    • 20 weeks at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center

 

  • Training at the state level
    • 44 weeks of Field Training and Evaluation Program
    • Takes place at the first duty post

 

Duties of State Game Wardens in New Hampshire

Fish and game wildlife officers who work for the state have a wide array of duties in New Hampshire, since their roles range from wildlife specialists to law enforcement officers:

  • Fish and wildlife law
    • Patrolling designated areas to identify fishing and hunting code violations
    • Studying and applying the state’s laws on regulations to investigate game and fish complaints
    • Speaking to groups about wildlife and ecology
    • Maintaining fish and game equipment such as boats, firearms, snow machines, and traps
    • Checking the equipment and licenses of sports persons to arrest violaters

 

  • Law enforcement
    • Questioning witnesses and procuring evidence
    • Prosecuting criminal cases in court as required
    • Assisting with emergencies
      • Search and rescue
      • Providing first aid
      • Securing disaster areas where accidents have taken place or someone has drowned

 

New Hampshire taking Steps to Crack Down on Poaching

The state of New Hampshire offers a toll free hotline for citizens to report poaching violations or suspicious.  Known as Operation Game Thief, member of the public who suspect that crimes against wildlife are occurring in New Hampshire can call and report them as a silent witness.  Providing the following types of information can help game wardens to find poachers or people who are trespassing or destroying property:

  • Vehicle description and license number
  • Date and time
  • Road or route and travel direction
  • Type of violation
  • Description of the individual or people

There is a persistent problem in the U.S. with people who have lost their hunting, fishing, or trapping licenses as a result of committing wildlife crimes circumventing this by switching to other states.  Federal authorities estimate that law enforcement officials are only able to recover 1-5% of the animals poached nationally.

In 2013, New Hampshire became a member of the national law enforcement network known as the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.  This helps game wardens to identify poachers from other states who have tried to obtain licenses to hunt, fish, and trap in New Hampshire.  It also helps those in other states to identify New Hampshire poachers who are trying to become active in other states.


New Hampshire Wildlife Officer Salary

As of 2018, conservation officers working for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department earned an average salary of $51,575 ($24.80 per hour) according to the government transparency organization Open the Books.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department maintains several classes of Conservation Officers from trainees all the way up to colonel. Within each class there are nine different pay levels. As of 2019 the starting salary for a Conservation Officer Trainee at the lowest level was $45,178 ($21.72 per hour), while a Conservation Officer Colonel at the highest pay level earned $116,230 ($55.88 per hour).

These are the eight different Conservation Officer classes and their range of minimum and maximum annual (and hourly) pay levels in 2019, according to the New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services:

 

Conservation Officer Trainee

$45,178 ($21.72) to $62,275 ($29.94)

 

Conservation Officer I

$48,880 ($23.50) to $67,621 ($32.51)

 

Conservation Officer II

$50,835 ($24.44) to $71,053 ($34.16)

 

Conservation Officer Sergeant

$55,182 ($26.53) to $77,438 ($37.23)

 

Conservation Officer Lieutenant

$59,862 ($28.78) to $84,427 (40.59)

 

Conservation Officer Captain

$65,208 ($31.35) to $92,040 ($44.25)

 

Conservation Officer Major

$74,173 ($35.66) to $106,163 ($51.04)

 

Conservation Officer Colonel

$80,870 ($38.88) to $116,230 ($55.88)

 

Conservation officers with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department also enjoy a range of benefits as full-time state employees:

  • Medical – including prescription drugs and dental
  • Retirement plan
  • Life insurance
  • Union membership options
  • Annual salary increases
  • Longevity and overtime pay
  • 10 holidays per year plus eligibility for three additional floating holidays
  • A minimum of 15 days of paid sick leave per year, with the possibility to accrue a maximum of 120 paid sick days

After 25 years of experience they can retire at 50 percent of their maximum salary. Officers working beyond 25 years receive an additional 2 percent of retirement pay for each additional year worked beyond 25 years

 

Salary, benefits, and job classification information sourced from the New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services (https://das.nh.gov/) and the non-profit Open the Books (https://www.openthebooks.com).

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

All salary data accessed in August 2019.

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