What does a Fish Warden do?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2019
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A fish warden is a law enforcement officer who watches over public lakes, rivers, and wildlife reserves. He or she primarily enforces various boating, fishing, and environmental protection laws. A professional may also be required to perform the same duties as other police officers when he or she comes across dangerous or criminal activity. Some fish wardens record information on populations of fish, vegetation, and other marine life, monitor water and air quality, and provide educational resources to the public about sustainability and safety.

In the United States, local, state, and federal agencies employ fish wardens to patrol public waters. A fish warden usually makes routine rounds around a lake or river, keeping an eye out for illicit activity. He or she may stop fishermen and recreational boaters to make sure that they have valid licenses and are following safety regulations. A warden might inspect a boat or a trailer to ensure that all lights are in working order and that life jackets are on board. Many wardens provide helpful information to fishermen and boaters, telling them about local regulations and the best places to enjoy their activities.


When a fish warden discovers illegal activity, he or she is authorized to write citations and detain suspects, if necessary. He or she might help other officers with investigations, participate in search and rescue missions, or appear in court to testify for or against suspects. A fish warden usually keeps detailed records of his or her patrols, makes notes about potential criminal activity, and closely monitors suspicious persons.

Environmental protection is a major concern of most fish wardens. Many professionals monitor wildlife, noting changes in behavior, migration patterns, or population numbers. A warden may investigate water and air quality, and report pollution or other abnormal findings to the proper authorities. He or she might also provide resources to fishermen and boaters about the importance of protecting wildlife and keeping water sources clean.

To become a fish warden, and individual is usually required to have about two years of college experience, though some agencies require new wardens to hold bachelor's degrees in law enforcement or environmental management. In addition, a prospective fish warden must complete training at an accredited academy to become licensed. Training may take anywhere from four months to a year, depending on the program. Once educational and training requirements are met, a new warden typically receives on-the-job instruction from an experienced professional to learn details about a specific area.


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Post 4

@bagley79-- I don't think anyone ever decides to be a fish warden because it is a high paying job. Most of them are interested in it because they love being outdoors and are active fishermen and hunters themselves.

My uncle works as a fish warden and I think he makes somewhere around $40,000 a year. There are usually some pretty good benefits that go with the job, so that helps a little too.

He takes his job seriously and really gets frustrated when he finds people are breaking the rules and trying to get away with things.

Post 3

What is the average salary of a game and fish warden? This is something my son would love to do, especially if it only required a couple years of college.

He spends most of his free time fishing and if he could make a living being in this environment I think this would be a career he would be happy with the rest of his life.

Post 2

@myharley-- Most of the fish and game wardens where we live are employed by the county. When it is not fishing season, they are involved in other areas of county conservation. Between all the different fishing and hunting seasons, there aren't too many months when there isn't something going on.

If someone loved being outdoors all the time, and loved to fish and hunt, this would be a great job to have. I don't think the pay is all that great, but for someone who couldn't stand to be inside an office all day, it would be a nice job to have.

Post 1

About the only time I have seen a fish and game warden is when they come around making sure everyone has their fishing license at some of the places we love to fish at.

We don't go fishing unless we have the proper license, so we have never had any problems when he shows up.

We live in a place that has many months of cold temperatures, and I have always wondered what they do the rest of the year when people aren't out fishing.

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