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Doug Leier: Upcoming exam is a first step for becoming a North Dakota game warden

You may be eligible even if you don’t have a fisheries and wildlife degree or law enforcement background.

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If you have an interest in becoming a game warden, you owe it to yourself to investigate and explore the possibility.
Mike Anderson / North Dakota Game and Fish Department
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Doug Leier is an outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Reach him at dleier@nd.gov.

WEST FARGO – The 38 game wardens for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department come from a variety of backgrounds and interests, but each bring a special skill, talent and ability.

Spending time in the department’s booth at the Sportsman Show this winter, I enjoyed the conversations with hunters, anglers, kids and those tagging along. Situated next to an outfitter from South Africa while discussing zebra mussels in North Dakota sure makes for a unique experience.

What was even more eye-opening was working with a few of the game wardens. While each has been working the field for more than a decade, it was a reminder of how much has changed since I started as a game warden. Neither zebra mussels nor chronic wasting disease had been found in North Dakota, and there weren't yet seasons on mountain lions and river otters.

What hasn’t changed is the passion of many for North Dakota outdoors, or the drive of department wardens to keep poachers in check and hunters and anglers safe.

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Do you want to become a North Dakota game warden? The first step in the process is registering to take the upcoming game warden exam. Are you interested in taking the exam to select candidates for the position of a full-time temporary district game warden? You must register no later than May 24. The test is at 10 a.m. May 27 at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's main office in Bismarck.

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Applicants must register by submitting an online application through the North Dakota State Job Openings website. You may be eligible even if you don’t have a fisheries and wildlife degree or law enforcement background.

The requirements: Applicants must be at least 21, have a bachelor’s degree at time of hire or an associate degree with either two years of law enforcement or wildlife experience, have a valid driver’s license and a current North Dakota peace officer license, or be eligible to be licensed. Candidates must successfully complete a comprehensive background check and must not have a record of any felony convictions.

Salary through training is $4,400 per month. For more information, see the district game warden job announcement on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

I can’t stress enough that if you have an interest in becoming a game warden, you owe it to yourself to investigate and explore the possibility. Call your local game warden and ask a few questions. You’ll soon realize there is no template for the job.

As with any job, there will be realities of working in a career field where you’ll be working the deer opener and on and around the water on the Fourth of July. Game wardens get time off just like everyone else. But also understand the job is not of a fishing guide or professional hunter. Oftentimes, you’ll be working during peak activity of hunting and fishing. It’s part of the job, but for most game wardens, the give and take of having a flexible work and day schedule is a nice tradeoff.

I remember growing up with career game wardens Harold Bellin of LaMoure and Delbert Tibke in Valley City. Before I was hired, I went on a ridealong with Ken Skuza in Kenmare and Mike Raasakka in Stanley. While Harold and Delbert have died, Ken and Mike are still working, a testament to their passion for the job and the satisfaction of working in a career field they appreciate.

Who knows, maybe you could be next.

Doug Leier is an outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Reach him at dleier@nd.gov.
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