Montana’s game wardens are sworn peace officers who work with the state’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. These game wardens both enforce the law and manage Montana’s diverse and highly treasured natural resources.
Montana boasts such natural attractions as Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, the largest number of freshwater lakes in the West, and more elk, deer, and antelopes than people. Its diversity of natural treasures draws people from around the globe who watch wildlife, hunt, and fish.
However, along with those who respectfully take part in Montana’s wilderness, the state also draws reprobates such as illegal harvesters and poachers. One of the primary duties of the state’s game wardens is to apprehend poachers and other people who break the law.
The opportunity to serve as a law enforcement officer in Montana’s stunning wilderness draws a large number of highly qualified applicants, so competition for game warden positions in the state is fierce.
Applicants can enhance their chances for success by learning as much as they can about the application and selection process and the qualifications required. Read on to learn more about the process of becoming a game warden in Montana.
Montana Game Warden Eligibility Requirements
State and federal agencies monitor about 35% of Montana’s lands, which represents a large amount of territory overseen by game wardens. As sworn peace officers, game wardens in Montana are responsible for monitoring general crimes in addition to those against wildlife. In addition, many officers are deputized to the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and may also serve as county deputy sheriffs.
The roles of Montana’s game wardens are not limited to law enforcement, however. These conservation professionals present information to conservation groups, collect data on wildlife and habitats, and help with search and rescue operations when needed.
The combination of law enforcement and conservation knowledge requires men and women who can best serve the Department by having an extremely broad set of skills. Shown below are the minimum qualifications to apply for the role of game warden in the state of Montana.
Basic Job Qualifications for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks
You can find a full list of the requirements, training, and job opportunities on the website of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. The minimum requirements to become a game warden in Montana are shown below:
Age: 20 years of age or older at the time of appointment
Citizenship: Proof of U.S. Citizenship or naturalization documents are required, as well as residency in Montana
License: A valid Montana-issued driver’s license is required.
Military Service: Veterans and military personnel require ‘Honorable Discharge’ documents.
Work Eligibility: New employees must present original documents that establish identity and eligibility for U.S. employment opportunities as per federal law – applicants must be eligible to accept employment before the process continues. Candidates will be subject to mandatory drug screening.
Background and Legal History: Applicants must pass an intensive fingerprint background check with polygraph in order to continue the application process. This is to ensure that candidates have:
- No addictions to drugs or alcohol
- Good moral character
- Not been presently placed on probation by court order
- Not been convicted of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude
- Never been convicted of a felony offense
- Never been convicted of domestic violence, misdemeanor or otherwise
- Never been convicted of perjury or false statement
- Never been discharged or resigned under threat of discharge from any law enforcement position
Academic Credentials: Completion of high school or GED is required; the entry-level degree requirement is a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college/university in a field like fish & wildlife, park management, outdoor recreation or criminal justice.
POST Training and Transitioning to the Field
POST written assessment has four timed sections that focus on math, reading comprehension, grammar, and indecent report creation
Interview: Candidates will have a panel interview with enforcement officers to evaluate knowledge, demeanor and ability to make ethical judgments.
Medical evaluation: Candidates must be in good health for a physically active outdoor role in law enforcement.
Hearing: The applicant must be able to demonstrate good hearing
Vision: The applicant must have good corrected or uncorrected binocular vision, and have color vision consistent with the demands of the job.
Montana Physical Fitness Testing:
The applicant must successfully complete a physical readiness test showing that he or she is able to complete performance as shown below:
- Bench press and push-ups
- Timed sit-ups
- Timed sprint
- Timed distance run
- Swim and treading objectives
Montana Law Enforcement Academy
A 12-week course is offered to Montana Game Wardens, consisting of basic police officer training in the following areas:
- Defensive tactics
- Search and seizure
- State and federal laws
- Human behavior
- Law enforcement functions
- Patrol operations
Graduates are assigned to field positions, usually at one of the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks regional offices, for a period of on-the-job training before being assigned as a district game warden. The training period is variable and specific to an individual’s professional development. All game wardens are on probation for one year.
Psychological Condition: The applicant must be in suitable psychological and emotional health as evaluated by the state
Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Desired Qualifications
- Demonstrate effective use of English including written mechanics and clarity, as well as reasoned verbal discussions.
- Demonstrate effective use of mathematics including advanced arithmetic, basic accounting, estimating, and data collection
- Receptive, expressive and written skills in additional languages are an asset.
- Knowledge of current principles and practices of habitat resources, law enforcement and wildlife management
- Computer spreadsheet, word processing, email, GIS, and database knowledge in a networked environment is required; the state uses proprietary programs for training and information delivery
- Establish and maintain effective interpersonal relationships within and outside of the department
- Remain committed to professional development
- Effectively operate and negotiate a 4-wheel drive vehicle on rugged terrain
- Effectively utilize boats, snowmobiles, and ATVs for patrol and pursuit
- Demonstrate effective use of firearms.
- Professional development or college courses in psychology, law enforcement, sociology, or natural resources management
Fish, Wildlife & Parks Game Warden Salaries
The Montana Department of Labor & Industry reported that game wardens with the state’s Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department earned an average salary of $42,620 ($20.49/hour) as of 2015. The median salary among Montana’s game wardens was slightly lower at $42,510 ($20.44/hour).
According to the Montana.gov Official State Website, game wardens with Fish, Wildlife & Parks receive a total compensation package with benefits worth $45,843 a year ($22.04 an hour) as of 2017. The valuable benefits Montana’s game wardens enjoy include:
- Paid leave & holidays
- Health Insurance
- Retirement plan
Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks
1420 East Sixth Avenue, P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701
Phone: (406) 444-2452.
Aaniiih Nakoda College
269 Blackfeet Avenue Agency, Harlem, MT 59526
Phone: (406) 353-2607
Blackfeet Community College
504 S. East Boundary, Browning, MT 59417-0819
Phone: (406) 338-5441 x2200
1601 N Benton Ave, Helena, MT 59625-0002
Phone: (406) 447-4300
Dawson Community College
300 College Dr, Glendive, MT 59330
Phone: (406) 377-3396
Flathead Valley Community College
777 Grandview Dr, Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 756-3822
Little Big Horn College
1 Forestry Lane, Crow Agency, MT 59022
Phone: (406) 638-3100 x101
Montana State University
Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717
Phone: (406) 994-0211
Montana State University-Billings
1500 University Drive, Billings, MT 59101-0298
Phone: (406) 657-2011
Montana State University-Northern
300 W 11th St, Havre, MT 59501
Phone: (406) 265-3700
Montana Tech of the University of Montana
1300 W Park St, Butte, MT 59701-8997
Phone: (406) 496-4256
Rocky Mountain College
1511 Poly Drive, Billings, MT 59102-1796
Phone: (406) 657-1000
Salish Kootenai College
58138 US Highway 93, Pablo, MT 59855
Phone: (406) 275-4800
Stone Child College
8294 Upper Box Elder Road, Box Elder, MT 59521-9796
Phone: (406) 395-4313 x264
The University of Montana
Missoula, Montana, Missoula, MT 59812
Phone: (406) 243-0211
The University of Montana-Western
710 S Atlantic, Dillon, MT 59725-3598
Phone: (406) 683-7011
University of Great Falls
1301 Twentieth St S, Great Falls, MT 59405-4996
Phone: (406) 761-8210
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