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A Diversity of Opportunities

Warden Recruiting

Warden testing water


Field Conservation Warden

Field conservation wardens serve as full-time law enforcement officers and make up the majority of the DNR’s Division of Public Safety and Resource Protection. Their duties include a wide variety of enforcement and education, including:

  • recreational vehicle (ATV, UTV, snowmobile, boat) enforcement and education;
  • environmental case investigation;
  • hunting, fishing and trapping enforcement and education;
  • DNR property enforcement (state parks, forests and other DNR-owned lands); and
  • community policing, outreach and public relations work.

Field conservation wardens are typically assigned to a warden team and are responsible for patrolling and conducting investigations in an assigned geographic area (typically a whole county or a part thereof). That being said, field conservation wardens often travel outside of their assigned areas to assist with other cases and on focused enforcement efforts and patrol major DNR properties.

Field conservation warden positions are a critical component of our team and, as such, are expected to take an active role in hiring, training and mentoring other staff. There are a variety of additional, non-promotional duties that field conservation wardens may take on. These additional duties provide our wardens with many opportunities to gain experience, assist the Division and further their careers. These include:

  • field training officer;
  • background investigator;
  • academy instructor;
  • EVOC, taser, DAAT or firearms instructor;
  • boat operations instructor; and
  • specialized committees (strategic planning, training, recruitment, etc.).

Lastly, all conservation wardens (field and property-specific) can apply to participate on the DNR's special teams which includes the ROV Team (remote operated underwater vehicle), UAS Team (unmanned aircraft systems), Wisconsin Joint Tactical Team, SBOT (specialized boat operations team) and honor guard.

Property-Specific Conservation Warden

The Conservation Warden Service employs approximately 20 property-specific conservation wardens across the state. These wardens have the same authority and receive the same training, pay and benefits as field conservation wardens but focus their patrols, investigations and community outreach in major Wisconsin state parks and forests. While their focus is on major DNR properties, property-specific conservation wardens also conduct DNR-related investigations statewide.

Property-specific conservation wardens conduct many the same duties that are listed in the Field Conservation Warden section above but also take on more traditional law enforcement, education and search and rescue duties involving visitors at major DNR properties.

Property-specific and field conservation wardens frequently work cooperatively on patrols, investigations and special event assignments. Both types of wardens are integral parts of the DNR’s law enforcement team.

Limited-Term (LTE) Community Service Officer

The community service officer (CSO) position is a new limited-term employment (LTE) role with our division. This is a seasonal (summer) position only. CSO positions will be non-law enforcement positions, but will work closely with our conservation warden staff on projects, public compliance, education and outreach. The CSO role is a paid position and will also include the opportunity to earn college credits. CSOs will be based all over the state and applicants will be able to select their geographic preference(s) during the application process.

Recreation Warden

Recreation wardens are based out of the Recreational Safety and Outdoor Skills (RSOS) Section, providing leadership and direction for the Division’s comprehensive recreational enforcement, recreational incident investigations and specialized training program. Recreation warden staff are positioned statewide to be resources to other conservation wardens, the public and partner agencies.

Recreation wardens serve as law enforcement safety specialists. Areas of specialization include hunting, boating and off-highway vehicles (ATVs, UTVs, OHMs and snowmobiles). Recreation wardens provide expertise, training and investigative assistance for hunting, boating and off-highway vehicle accident investigations, working closely with field conservation wardens and local law enforcement patrols. They also assist other units of government in waterway marker adoption and reviews of local government ordinances related to boating, off-highway vehicle and hunting-related regulations.

Investigative Warden

Investigative wardens specialize in investigating complex cases, most often involving the commercialization of natural resources and environmental violations. Investigative wardens work closely with field conservation wardens, as well as other DNR program staff (environmental enforcement, fisheries, etc.), to gather and review information, conduct investigative interviews and build legal cases. These wardens are experienced in obtaining search warrants and subpoenas and reviewing electronic records. Investigative wardens are assigned regionally but often put their skills to use throughout the state.

Conservation Warden Supervisor (Lieutenant)

Conservation warden supervisors serve as a conduit between field conservation wardens and upper management. These wardens typically lead six to eight field conservation warden staff spread out over several counties. Conservation warden supervisors are responsible for developing staff, administering DNR policies and legal mandates, as well as conducting administrative tasks. Conservation warden supervisors also assist their staff with patrol efforts and case investigations.

Administrative Warden (Lieutenant)

Administrative wardens serve as statewide program experts and specialists. These wardens manage programs of statewide significance and often conduct work on behalf of the entire DNR. They serve the people of Wisconsin, the DNR, the Division of Public Safety and Resource Protection, and many external partners. Administrative warden specialties include homeland security, hunter education, ATV and snowmobile program administration, captive wildlife, recruitment and hiring of Division staff, tactical training, training academy oversight, policy and commercial fisheries.

Majors and Captains

Our management team is made up of majors and captains. Four majors lead the Field Operations, Investigations and Environmental Enforcement, Training, and Recreational Safety and Outdoor Skills Bureaus, respectively. Within the Field Operations Bureau, four captains manage operations in each of the four DNR law enforcement regions within the state.

Chief and Deputy Chiefs

The chief conservation warden oversees the entire Division of Public Safety and Resource Protection and its over 300 employees. Our two deputy chief conservation wardens supervise all the majors and captains, with one focusing on external operations and one focusing on internal operations.

The Environmental Enforcement Program

The Environmental Enforcement team combines multiple regulatory disciplines and environmental law enforcement with the goal of protecting our state’s valuable natural resources and public health. Environmental enforcement specialists work collaboratively with regulatory staff, conservation wardens and alleged environmental violators to gain compliance, pursue appropriate civil and/or criminal enforcement action and coordinate remediation efforts. Enforcement program staff are called upon to investigate a wide variety of environmental cases statewide, which may involve businesses small and large. These positions allow for learning, leadership and management experiences and provide for a uniquely rewarding career working alongside a wide range of DNR staff.

The DNR R3 Team

The R3 team focuses their efforts on the recruitment, retention and reactivation of hunters, anglers, trappers and shooting sports participants. The R3 team was created within the Division of Public Safety and Resource Protection, but works in cooperation with several DNR programs (law enforcement, wildlife management and fish habitat). The team’s goal is to implement creative, effective and adaptive R3 programs (Hunt for Food events, for example) to engage the community and bring awareness to the many outdoor opportunities that exist in Wisconsin. The R3 team is made up of a supervisor, two R3 coordinators, two partner R3 coordinators (working for Pheasants Forever and the National Wild Turkey Federation), several outdoor skills trainers, the hunter education administer, the hunter education assistant and several part-time assistants. Learn more about the R3 Program.

Outdoor Skills Trainers (OSTs)

Outdoor skills trainers (OSTs) are non-credentialed staff that are part of the Recreational Safety and Outdoor Skills (RSOS) team, providing leadership, support and direction for the Division's comprehensive recreational safety, education and outdoor skills training program. OSTs serve as the Division's outdoor skills and safety specialists with responsibility for coordinating a comprehensive recreational safety, education and outdoor skills program. They manage aspects of the recreational education programs (hunter education, bow hunter education, ATV, UTV, OHM, snowmobile and boating) such as planning, logistics and coordination for training, and providing guidance to our volunteer instructor corps as it relates to the safety programs, instructor certifications and continued education training. They assist with the R3 team activities and programs involving hunting, shooting sports, archery and angling.