Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Officers

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the federal agency responsible for safeguarding America’s natural resources. The agency has officers working in national refuges across the U.S., including wildlife refuges, fish hatcheries, waterfowl management areas and wetland districts. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge law enforcement officers ensure the safety of refuge visitors, and to safeguard the refuge and the animals and plants that live in it.

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Job Description: A Day in the Life of a Refuge Law Enforcement Officer

A fisheries law enforcement officer is responsible for enforcing laws regulating poaching, hunting, endangered species protection, natural resource violations and more.

Refuge officers spend much of their time patrolling an assigned refuge jurisdiction in order to ensure the safety of visitors and of animals/plants occupying the area. In addition to patrolling, the job of a refuge officer involves surveillance and investigative duties, the apprehension or detention of suspected criminals, and making arrests.

General Requirements and Training

To be considered for the position of refuge officer, applicants must be U.S. citizens from ages 21 to 37 at the time of appointment, hold a valid driver’s license, and possess a college degree or a high school diploma plus one year of federal-level work experience at the GS-4 level. Applicants must also pass physical, mental, drug and background tests.

Successful applicants must complete the 18-week basic Land Management Police Training Academy at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. They must also attend a 2-week Refuge Officer Basic School at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and a 10-week Field Training and Evaluation Program at a selected field training station. Training includes instruction in environmental laws, defense tactics, firearms management and more.

Salary, Benefits and Opportunities for Advancement

Entry-level refuge officers may be hired at the GS-5 ($30.113 – $39,149), 7 ($37,301 – $48,488) or 9 ($45,627 – $59,316) levels, depending on qualifications and experience (2020 salary figures).

Benefits include retirement plan, federal thrift savings plan, optional health, and life insurance, and paid leave and holidays. Additional benefits include recruitment and relocation incentives and a student loan repayment program.

Opportunities for advancement are available as officers may go on to take supervising positions such as zone officer (GS-11/12) and regional chief (GS-13). Advancement is contingent on special skills, work performance, and dedication to the job.

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