Field Conservation Wardens serve as full-time law enforcement officers for the DNR, make up the majority of the Bureau of Law Enforcement’s staff. Their duties include a wide variety of enforcement and education, including:
Field Conservation Wardens positions are a critical component of the DNR’s Bureau of Law Enforcement team and, as such, are expected to actively participate as background investigators, field training officers, and/or staff instructors within the agency.
Field Conservation Wardens are typically assigned to a warden team, and are responsible for patrolling and conducting investigations in an assigned geographic area (most often all or part of a county). That being said, field Conservation Wardens often travel outside of their assigned areas to assist with other cases, focused enforcement efforts, and to patrol State Parks.
Field Conservation Wardens are also expected to take an active role in hiring, training and mentoring new staff. There are a variety of additional, non-promotional duties that field Conservation Wardens may take on during their careers. These include:
Lastly, field Conservation Wardens can apply to participate on the Department’s special teams, which include: Underwater ROV (remote operate vehicle), Tactical Boat, Dignitary Protection, Honor Guard, Tactical Flight Officer.
The LTE Conservation Warden Position is a certified Wisconsin Law Enforcement Officer, but one who works only seasonally for the DNR. Under the direction of a field Conservation Warden or Warden Supervisor, LTE Conservation Wardens are responsible for educating the public and enforcing all laws of the state while on Department managed properties and for all laws administered by the DNR throughout Wisconsin. This includes assisting full-time Conservation Wardens with water patrol, recreational vehicle patrol, environmental investigations, and hunting/fishing/trapping enforcement efforts. Additionally LTE Conservation Wardens regularly are assigned to assist with law enforcement efforts in Wisconsin’s State Parks. These wardens are usually assigned to a field Conservation Warden team, and may be called upon to assist in multiple counties.
Recreation Wardens (RWs) are based out of the Recreational Safety and Outdoor Skills (RSOS) Section, providing leadership and direction for the Bureau of Law Enforcement’s comprehensive recreational enforcement, recreational incident investigations and specialized training program.
RWs serve as law enforcement safety specialists. Areas of specialization include hunting, boating, and off highway vehicles (ATVs, UTVs, OHMs, and snowmobiles). RWs provide expertise, training and investigative assistance for hunting, boating and off highway vehicle accident investigations, working closely with field Conservation Wardens and local law enforcement patrols. They also assist other units of government in waterway marker adoption, and reviews of local government ordinances related to boating, off highway vehicle and hunting-related regulations.
Investigative Wardens specialize in investigating complex cases, most often involving the commercialization of natural resources and environmental violations. Investigative Wardens work closely with field Conservation Wardens, as well as other DNR program staff (Environmental Enforcement, Fisheries, etc.) to gather and review information, conduct investigative interviews, and build legal cases. These wardens are experienced in obtaining search warrants and subpoenas, and reviewing electronic records. Investigative Wardens are assigned regionally, but often put their skills to use throughout the state.
Conservation Warden Supervisors serve as front-line supervisors for the Warden Force, serving as a conduit between field Conservation Wardens and upper management. These wardens typically lead 6-8 field Conservation Warden staff spread out over several counties. Conservation Warden Supervisors are responsible for developing staff, administering DNR policies and legal mandates, as well as conducting administrative tasks. Conservation Warden Supervisors also assist their staff with patrol efforts and case investigations.
Administrative Wardens serve as statewide program experts and specialists. Whether their specialty is Hunter Education or hiring, these wardens manage programs of statewide significance and often conduct work on behalf of the entire Department. They serve the people of Wisconsin, the Department, the Bureau of Law Enforcement, and its many external partners. We currently have 11 administrative wardens, whose specialties include Homeland Security, Hunter Education, ATV and Snowmobile Program Administration, Captive Wildlife, Internet & Digital Investigations, Recruitment and Hiring of Conservation Wardens, Tactical Training, Training Academy oversight, Policy, and Commercial Fisheries.
Our management team is made up of our captains on up. We have a section chief that leads the Environmental Enforcement Unit. We have captains that lead the Training and Hiring Section, the Business Services Section, and another captain that manages the Recruitment, Retention, and Re-activation (R3) Team, Recreation Warden Team, and Safety Section. We have five captains that manage operations in each of the five regions within the state.
Our assistant chief warden supervises all of the regional captains and the overall operations of the Bureau of Law Enforcement. The chief warden oversees the entire Bureau of Law Enforcement and it’s over 300 employees.
OSTs are non-credentialed positions based out of the Bureau of Law Enforcement, Recreational Safety and Outdoor Skills (RSOS) Section, providing leadership, support and direction for the BLE’s comprehensive recreational safety, education and outdoor skills training program. OSTs serve as the BLE outdoor skills and safety specialist with responsibility for coordinating a comprehensive recreational safety, education, and outdoor skills program. They manage aspects of the recreational education programs (Hunter Education, Bow Hunter Education, ATV, UTV, OHM, snowmobile, boating (off-highway vehicles)) such as planning, logistics and coordination for training and provide guidance to our volunteer instructor corps as it relates to the safety programs and instructor certifications and continued education training. They assist with the R3 Team activities and programs involving hunting, shooting sports, archery and angling.
The Environmental Enforcement Program combines multiple regulatory disciplines and environmental law enforcement with the goal of protecting our state’s valuable natural resources and public health. Environmental Enforcement Specialists work collaboratively with regulatory staff, conservation wardens and alleged environmental violators, to gain compliance, pursue appropriate civil and/or criminal enforcement action, and coordinate remediation efforts. Enforcement Program staff are called upon to investigate a wide variety of environmental cases, which may involve businesses small and large. These positions allow for learning, leadership, and management experiences, and a uniquely rewarding career working alongside a wide range of Department personnel.
The DNR’s R3 Team focusses their efforts on the recruitment, retention and reactivation of hunters, anglers, trappers and shooting sports participants. The R3 Team was created within the Bureau Law Enforcement, but works in cooperation with several DNR programs (Law Enforcement, Wildlife Management, and Fish Habitat). The Team goal is to implement creative, effective, and adaptive R3 programs (example: Hunt for Food events) to engage the community and bring awareness to the many outdoor opportunities that exist in Wisconsin. The R3 Team is made up of a supervisor, two R3 Coordinators, two partner R3 coordinators (working for Pheasants Forever and the National Wild Turkey Federation), several Outdoor Skills Trainers, the Hunter Education Administer, the Hunter Education Assistant, and several part-time assistants. Learn more about the R3 Program
For more information contact the Conservation Warden Recruiter: Jeffrey King
Preparing to become a Conservation Warden | Hiring Process | The First Year of Training - What to Expect | A Day in the Life of a Warden | Benefits | A Diversity of Opportunities