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How to Become a Fish and Game Warden in North Dakota

Fish and game wardens in North Dakota are either employees of the state’s Game and Fish Department or are federal employees from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement.

Both types of jobs involve combining expertise in law enforcement techniques with knowledge of the state’s wildlife and natural resources.  The primary role of state game wardens in North Dakota is to enforce the laws and regulations governing fishing and hunting practices.  These officers also have the following functions:

  • Educating the public
    • About wildlife
    • About hunting and boat safety
  • Public relations

 

Requirements to Become a North Dakota Game Warden at the State Level

Being a game warden in North Dakota frequently involves working alone at all hours of the day and night.  The job can entail a lot of physical demands:

  • Heavy lifting
  • Running or walking over uneven terrain
  • Being subject to adverse weather conditions

Applicants to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department are first evaluated on the basis of their state exam scores, with high scorers proceeding through the application process.  To be able to take the test, prospective game wardens who meet the requirements described below must send a letter of intent to the chief game warden in Bismarck when an exam has been scheduled.

Educational Requirement:

  • A bachelor’s degree
    • Although the state doesn’t specify the type of degree, applicants will be expected to have expertise in wildlife management or law enforcement techniques.

Additional Requirements:

    • Being at least 21 years old
    • Having a valid driver’s license
    • Having one of the following:
      • A current license as a North Dakota peace officer
      • Being eligible to obtain this type of license

 

  • Not having any felony convictions

Selection Procedure for Applicants:

  • Structured oral interview
  • Background check
  • Psychological exam
  • Medical exam
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Becoming a Federal Game Warden in North Dakota

The federal government declared wildlife trafficking to be a national priority in 2014.  Game wardens who work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service play a pivotal role in carrying out these efforts to protect wildlife.

Basic Requirements:

  • Possessing U.S. citizenship
  • Having a valid driver’s license
  • Age requirement:
    • At least 21
    • Younger than 37

Educational Requirements:

  • A 4 year degree in one of the following or a related field:
    • Police science
    • Wildlife management
    • Criminal justice

Training Requirements:

    • FLETC academy training:
      • 20 weeks at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center

 

  • Training at the first duty post:
    • 44 weeks of training in the field

 

Wildlife Law Enforcement Efforts in North Dakota in 2012

State game wardens issued an increased number of citations in 2012 compared to previous years.  Part of the impetus of this was the wishes of hunters and anglers for greater penalties and new laws for those violating North Dakota’s wildlife laws.

Big Game – A large number of citations involved the hunting of big game such as bighorn sheep and deer.  State game wardens identified 170 such violations during 2012.  The breakdown of some of the key types of violations are shown below:

  • Illegal possession and taking – 24% of the violations
  • Tagging violations – 12% of the violations
  • Killing the wrong sex or species – 6% of the violations

Other big game violations that were identified in smaller numbers included the following:

  • Failing to wear fluorescent orange
  • Using artificial light
  • Exceeding the limit
  • Hunting in closed season
  • CWD violation

Small Game – Game wardens identified 251 violations against small game species in 2012.  The primary violations are shown below:

  • Using a gun that can hold over 3 shells – 42% of the violations
  • Failing to leave ID or sex of game – 35% of the violations
  • Exceeding the limit – 27% of the violations
  • Killing the wrong species or sex – 8% of the violations
  • Failing to carry a federal waterfowl stamp – 7% of the violations

Violations that were identified in smaller numbers included the following types:

  • Hunting without a federal waterfowl stamp
  • Hunting in closed season
  • Failure to accompany/transport other’s game
  • Illegal possession/taking
  • Unlawfully transporting game
  • Failure to HIP register
  • Nontoxic shot violation


North Dakota Wildlife Officer Salary

According to the Workforce Intelligence Network, which is the official labor market information portal of the North Dakota State Government, the fish and game warden salary in North Dakota compares very favorably with the national average.

In North Dakota, the median salary among game wardens was $56,170 in 2013. This was roughly 14% higher than the average nationally ($48,070). The Workforce Intelligence Network reported that game wardens new to the job earned an average of $36,700 that year, but those with experience earned significantly more at $62,140.

Information obtained from North Dakota Human Resource Management Services in 2013 reveals that game wardens are paid on an incremental salary schedule, which looks like this:

Game Warden I

Minimum: $39,384
1st Quartile: $45,948
Midpoint: $52,512
3rd Quartile: $59,076
Maximum: $65,640
Game Warden II

Minimum: $46,788
1st Quartile: $54,588
Midpoint: $62,376
3rd Quartile: $70,176
Maximum: $77,976
District Game Warden Supervisor

Minimum: $56,496
1st Quartile: $65,916
Midpoint: $75,324
3rd Quartile: $84,744
Maximum: $94,152

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