A Diversity of Opportunities
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)
- 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, 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, and/or firearms instructor
- Boat operations instructor;
- Internship supervisor
- Specialized committees (strategic planning, training, recruitment, etc.)
Lastly, field conservation wardens can apply to participate on the DNR's special teams, which include: underwater ROV (remote operated vehicle), UAS (unmanned aircraft systems), tactical, tactical boat, dignitary protection and honor guard.
Limited-Term (LTE) Field Conservation Wardens
The LTE conservation warden position is a certified Wisconsin law enforcement officer, but one who works only seasonally for the DNR. Under the direction of a field conservation warden or warden supervisor, LTE conservation wardens are responsible for educating the public and enforcing all laws of the state while on Wisconsin DNR-managed properties and for all laws administered by the DNR throughout Wisconsin. This includes assisting full-time conservation wardens with water patrol, recreational vehicle patrol, environmental investigations and hunting/fishing/trapping enforcement efforts. Additionally LTE conservation wardens regularly are assigned to assist with law enforcement efforts in Wisconsin’s state parks. These wardens are usually assigned to a field conservation warden team and may be called upon to assist in multiple counties.
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 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.
Section Chiefs and Captains
Our management team is made up of our captains and up. We have a section chief that leads the environmental enforcement unit. We have captains that lead the training and hiring section, the business services section, and another captain that manages the recruitment, retention, and re-activation (R3) team, recreation warden team and safety section. We have five captains that manage operations in each of the five regions within the state.
Assistant Chief, and Chief (LE Mgt. Team)
The chief conservation warden oversees the entire Division of Public Safety and Resource Protection and its over 300 employees. Our deputy chief conservation wardens supervise all of the regional captains and the overall operations of the Division.
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 (example: Hunt for Food events) 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 Skill Trainers (OSTs)
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.
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