Fish and Wildlife Officer Career

Being a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Wildlife Officer is a great career. It offers individuals interested in law enforcement a lifetime of challenges, diverse assignments, and opportunities for professional growth and career advancement. Wardens have Statewide jurisdiction and although their primary function is to enforce Fish and Game code, they may be called upon to enforce any of California's laws.

Wildlife Officers provide the public with hunting and fishing information and protect California's diverse resources from poaching and overuse. They are required to carry and use firearms; they usually work alone and on weekends and holidays; and often work during the night. Wildlife officers patrol on foot, on horseback, by plane, boats, and in a variety of vehicles. They investigate reports of violations, collect and preserve evidence, write reports, and testify in court.

Wildlife officers are also expected to promote and coordinate hunter education programs, collect and report information on the conditions of fish and wildlife and their habitat, and represent the CDFW at local schools and meetings of special interest groups, e.g., hunting and fishing clubs, Lions Club, Rotary, Audubon, etc.

Wildlife officers have assignments in both rural and urban areas of the State. They are typically assigned to and responsible for enforcing the law in a specific geographical area of the State. They enforce all Fish and Game laws related to hunting, recreational and commercial fishing, trapping, pollution, falconry, and exotic animal laws. Following is a list of some of the specialized duties and assignments that are available for both limited term and permanent assignment:

  • Academy Staff
  • Hunter Education
  • Boarding Officer on Patrol Boats
  • Field Training Officer
  • Oil Spill Prevention and Response
  • Commercial Fishing
  • Special Operations (Undercover Officers)
  • CalTip Coordinator
  • Streambed Alterations
  • Delta Bay Enhanced Enforcement Team
  • Warden Pilot
  • Firearms Instructor
  • Weaponless Defense Instructor
  • Tactical Baton Instructor
  • K-9 Handler
  • Marijuana Enforcement Team
  • Watershed Enforcement Team
  • Permitting Enforcement Team
  • Wildlife Trafficking Unit

Wardens face many unique challenges as they enforce the laws relating to fish, wildlife, and habitat within the State and its offshore waters. In part these challenges come from:

  • California - 159,000 square miles of area.
  • A growing human population of 32 million.
  • Habitat and wildlife diversity that is unequaled by any other state.
  • More than 1,100 miles of coastline.
  • 30,000 miles of rivers and streams; 4,800 lakes and reservoirs; 80 major rivers.
  • Three of the four North American Desert habitats; and scores of high mountain peaks.
  • More than 1,000 native fish and wildlife species.
  • More than 6,300 native plant species.
  • Approximately 360 threatened or endangered species.
  • Approximately three million licenses and permits issued by CDFW each year.
  • Over 300 million pounds of fish landed commercially in California each year.
Video: What Fish and Game Wardens Do
warden in front of San Francisco Bay
Fish and Game Patrol Boats
Warden on patrol in snow
Warden with overlimit of fish