Conservation Officer

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Conservation Officer


Conservation officers work for different levels of government, tramping throughout the nation's natural habitats and protected parks. Much like the downtown police officers who walk their regular beats, conservation officers monitor their assigned area, looking out for the flora and fauna within their jurisdiction. They watch for degradation brought on by natural forces, as well as human influence.

Without conservation officers, we might not have a lot of land left to protect. Their job is complex, and important. First of all, they enforce laws and standards set up by governments regarding camping, hunting, and fishing. They track people who are hunting out of season, for example, and enforce gaming laws and regulations.

Conservation officers also look into hunting accidents and complaints. If a number of campers are pestered by bears, the officer must look into the bear population, to learn why they are behaving strangely. Perhaps there is over-fishing, and the bears have little to eat. They may also look into an accidental shooting, and give evidence in court.

Conservation officers often work with visitors, especially those officers who work closer to urban centers. They give training courses on firearms safety, camping tips and the importance of preserving natural spaces. They may travel to schools and community centers, or give presentations out of resource centers at the park. They also help with search and rescue missions, as well as assist in putting out forest fires.

Conservation officers also look into environmental and population health--they do regular investigations of water conditions, soil conditions, and populations of animals. They may collect samples to be sent off to biologists, this helps them look after their own area, as well as give the government a good idea about the health and situations of America's wildlife, fish, forests and water bodies.
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  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
Interested in working as a conservation officer? These individuals should have a profound interest in nature and a concern for the environment. They should enjoy being physically fit, and you possess good communication skills, both in person and in writing. Conservation officers must be tactful, diplomatic and confident in their ability to handle difficult people and situations. They are able to remain calm in stressful situations, and be thorough and patient when problem-solving. They should also be skilled at compiling information, gathering data and samples and working with people, as well as able to work, and sometimes live, alone.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Monitor the activities of hunters, anglers, trappers, commercial fishers, industrial organizations and people using outdoor recreation facilities
  • Keep records of activities, birth rates, environmental conditions, and anything else relating to conservation
  • Assist other local law enforcement agencies
  • Recommend changes or amendments to legislation and regulations regarding conservation issues
  • Make recommendations regarding hunting and fishing seasons
  • Safeguard public safety in protected areas
  • Present information to the media, schools, recreational sporting clubs and civic groups
  • Investigate water pollution and habitat damage or destruction
  • Investigate complaints of nuisance wildlife
  • Design and implement control measures to prevent or overcome damage caused by wildlife or by people
  • Issue various licenses and permits
  • Inspect commercial operations relating to fish and wildlife, recreation and protected areas
  • Conservation officers work long hours ensuring the responsible use of America's protected areas and natural resources. They monitor everything from hunting seasons to newly born deer. They work primarily outdoors, year-round and in all weather conditions, as well as spend time in an office. Occasionally, they give lectures in classroom settings, or go to court to give evidence in trapper or poacher cases. They can be hard at work in the predawn hours of the morning, or during the darkness of late rural nights. They often work weekends and holidays they may have to respond to emergencies during their days or hours off. The officers' work is sometimes dangerous. They are subject to injuries from animal bites, hunting accidents and confrontations with hunters who have been accused of poaching.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Conservation officers can work anywhere in the US, and new officers might not get to choose where they are sent. Employed by the governmental associations concerned with environmental protection, they can be sent to rural and remote locations.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Conservation officers can work in rural areas, or work in urban centers, monitoring wildlife in surrounding regions. They can advance to supervisory positions. Some may become police officers, environmental activists, teachers or professors at postsecondary institutions. Others move on to become land use and rural planners.

  Educational Paths  
The minimum educational requirement for conservation officers is a two-year diploma in renewable resource management or resource/conservation law enforcement, or a university degree in environmental science.Training is beneficial in law or by-law enforcement.

Conservation officers are also required to have a driver's license, as well as other licenses, such as a pesticide applicator's license, or an explosives license, for example. These qualifications depend on the area of conservation one works in. New conservation officers attend additional training courses in specialized areas such as problem wildlife control or prevention, boat and firearms handling and safety, and off-highway vehicle operation and safety. Depending on the department or area, they may be required to train in law enforcement, as well.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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