[EDITOR'S NOTE: An audio slide show which provides a quick look at the kinds of training these wardens received over the past year is available on the DNR Web site].
MADISON - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank today announced that 11 conservation wardens have completed their year-long training and will be taking their posts in communities throughout the state in the coming weeks, boosting protection of Wisconsin's natural resources and public safety. The wardens were hired in the fall of 2007, prior to their extensive training.
"We're excited to get these wardens out in the field, partnering with local law enforcement to protect communities throughout Wisconsin," Frank said. "Some of these wardens are being assigned to counties that have not had a warden stationed there for several years and they will provide an important service to those communities. We appreciate the support of the public, and the conservation community in particular, in our effort to promote public safety and protect natural resources through enforcement, education, community involvement and stewardship."
A twelfth warden recruit, Matthew Groppi, started training with the class last January but was called to active military service and is deployed with the U.S. Army Reserves in Afghanistan. He will continue his warden training after returning to Wisconsin later this year.
"We are proud of Mr. Groppi's service to our country and look forward to his safe return," Frank said.
Wardens are responsible for enforcing state laws relating to wildlife, fish, boating, snowmobiling, all terrain vehicles, the environment, water regulation, and forestry. They also have authority to enforce all state laws on DNR owned and managed lands. While wardens' efforts are primarily focused on enforcement in the field, they also provide education to the public about regulations and safety issues, and introduce new people to hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.
The new wardens are notable because they were drawn from a wide pool of candidates. Previously, applicants had to be certified law enforcement officers. This is no longer a pre-requisite to apply for a warden position.
"We've learned the public is better served by selecting people with the skills and abilities to do this type of work first, and then train them to do law enforcement, instead of the other way around," Chief Warden Randy Stark said. "We hope this will open the door to more people with the skills and abilities we need."
The wardens' assignments cap a demanding year of training including 15 weeks in the academy to become certified law enforcement officers, specialized natural resources training and field work under the guidance of veteran wardens, as well as meeting with conservation, environmental and recreational user groups they will serve.
The wardens and their stations are:
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ron Cork (608) 269-7666; Darrel Waldera (608) 266-2425