What Is a Game Ranger?

Game rangers enforce hunting laws and ensure animals are only hunted in season.
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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2014
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A game ranger, also known as a game warden or conservation officer depending on the nature of the area and the part of the world in which the individual is working, is a member of law enforcement. This person is charged with protecting wildlife in a specified area through a number of different channels. The game ranger might make sure that hunting and fishing licenses are up to date, and that people are not hunting out of season and are following the provisions of the license. Game rangers might also assist other branches of more general law enforcement with investigations in the area, or conduct research on their own regarding wildlife numbers.

The purpose of designated hunting, fishing, and trapping seasons is to ensure that population levels of certain types of wildlife are kept in biologically successful levels. Poorly timed seasons could have detrimental effects on the population. An overpopulation of a certain animal, for example, could be just as damaging to habitat, and to the species health overall, as an underpopulation. It is the responsibility of the game ranger to enforce seasons and bag limits by patrolling in his or her assigned area, such as a national or state park.


There are a few different things a game ranger will need to do in the daily course of his or her job. The simplest task is making sure that everyone who is hunting, fishing, or trapping game has a current license to do so displayed on his or her person. Since some seasons have limits on the types of animals that can be shot -- antlered and antlerless deer seasons, for one example -- the game ranger will also need to inspect kills that people are making to ensure they are following the law. Generally, rangers do not need a warrant to search a vehicle the way other members of law enforcement do.

Aside from enforcing behavior of individuals, a game ranger may be a useful member of an investigative team on related crimes. This is because most rangers have specialized knowledge of their working areas. Frequently, rangers will assist other state or national environmental departments in performing research in the area, such as checking habitat qualities and estimated population numbers for a certain type of fish or wildlife. This type of work helps them to increase their specialized knowledge and make them more effective at their daily work.


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