A game warden is someone who supervises and manages populations of game and wildlife. This job is quite old; in the Middle Ages, for example, lords used game wardens, also known as gamekeepers, to supervise their estates and apprehend poachers. Many modern game wardens work for their respective governments, helping to enforce prevailing laws which pertain to game and wildlife, and sometimes engaging in other law enforcement tasks as well. In some regions of the world, people still work as more traditional game wardens, managing animals on private lands.
Generally, in order to become a game warden, someone must hold a four year college degree, ideally in a related field, though not necessarily. Game wardens are also law enforcement officers, so they must complete a law enforcement training. Like many other public servants, game wardens apply for job openings by taking an exam; if they pass the exam, they will be accepted for interviews.
The work of a game warden is incredibly varied. Wardens check on hunters and fisherman, investigate wildlife crimes, look out for poachers, manage wildlife populations, round up wildlife which has wandered far from home, participate in community education, assist with conservation programs, and perform other law enforcement tasks. Because game wardens are sworn peace officers, they can cite people for a wide assortment of crimes which take place in the regions that they supervise, and they are also able to conduct investigations, collect evidence, and search homes and vehicles.
As one might imagine, game wardens spend a lot of time outdoors. Many game wardens routinely patrol the regions that they oversee to keep an eye on things on the ground, and game wardens also staff checkpoints which are designed to discourage poaching. They also interact with a lot of hunters and fishermen, checking for licenses, ensuring that they have not exceeded the legal catch limit, and assisting them if they run into trouble.
Being a game warden or wildlife officer is not all fieldwork, of course; inevitably, like all law enforcement officers, game wardens must return to the office to file paperwork. Some game wardens also work in laboratories, testing evidence from the field, and many game wardens find themselves testifying on the witness stand at criminal cases. Regional departments of fish and game also hire specialized game wardens who work as biologists and environmental scientists, among many other things.
In the United States, most game wardens work for regional departments of fish and game. As sworn peace officers, they should be treated exactly like regular law enforcement by citizens. For citizens, the abilities of a game warden can be confusing; some people are under the mistaken impression that game wardens can search without a warrant, for example. In fact, game wardens are subject to the same laws which govern other law enforcement officials, which include protections from unlawful search and seizure.