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Montana Game Warden Oath of Office

Law Enforcement Warden Hiring

The Realities of the Job

The prospective candidate should know that this job requires working on most weekends, some holidays, working unscheduled varying hours of the day and night and in all weather conditions. It requires someone comfortable working alone with little chance of any immediate back up while confronting, citing or arresting violators, serving and executing search and arrest warrants with subjects who are most likely armed and possibly hostile towards law enforcement. It also requires someone who is comfortable working in remote locations while operating vehicles and watercraft in hazardous conditions. The prospective candidate should know that this job will involve handling injured and dangerous wildlife and at times requires euthanizing animals with firearms. The job, at times, will involve handling decomposing animals. A game warden has daily interaction with the public and must resolve conflict. Although focused on wildlife and resource related crimes, at times a game warden responds to assist on other emergency calls including serious motor vehicle crashes, domestic violence, disturbances, search and rescue operations and recovery of deceased persons.

Job Requirements

  • At least 18-years old
  • Be a United States Citizen
  • Be or become a Montana state resident upon appointment
  • Possess or obtain a valid Montana driver’s license in conjunction with appointment
  • Possess a bachelor’s degree.
  • Possess basic knowledge of fish and wildlife species and outdoor recreation in Montana
  • Must be in excellent physical and mental condition
  • Not have been convicted of a crime for which they could have been imprisoned in a federal or state penitentiary or crime involving unlawful sexual conduct
  • Must be of good moral character and be able to pass a thorough background investigation

Hiring Process

Application Phase

Every hiring process begins with the application phase. This generally kicks off in April and is open for about one month. The application phase is the first competition of the overall process and historically only about one third of the applicants move onto the next phase. You should put any and all relevant information regarding training, experience and skills you have in your application packet. Remember – everyone will have a degree so that will not set you apart from the pack, your training, skills and experience will. If you are on track to receive your bachelor’s degree that year you can apply.

 

Testing Phase

The testing phase is a three-day process. Day one is a series of four tests. The first test is the Montana Physical Abilities Test (MPAT) and is a pass or fail event. The second test is a 70 question T/F, multiple choice and fill in the blank test covering Montana hunting, fishing, trapping and boating regulations and laws; general species and natural resources; the department and its various programs; and general outdoor related questions. There is an essay test that requires you to handwrite out an answer to a scenario and there is an oral presentation that requires you to give an impromptu 5-minute presentation on a particular topic to a panel. At the end of the day the best performing candidates are moved on to the next day which is interviews.

Interviews are your classic formal interview panel. Candidates are assigned an interview time. They are provided the questions a short time before the interview begins and then go before a panel to answer the questions. Typically, there are about 8 questions and they include behavioral type questions as well as scenarios and last about 45 minutes. The best performing candidates are provided a conditional offer of employment and asked to come back the next day for the fit for duty assessment.  (The conditional offer is based on the candidate’s ability to successfully pass the fit for duty and the background investigation)

Fit for duty day includes a physical, a drug screen and a psychological evaluation. Those being found fit for duty are moved into backgrounds.

 

Background Investigation Phase

In this phase the candidates are subjected to a very thorough background investigation. This includes criminal history checks, driving history checks, reference checks, speaking with past supervisors and co-workers, residency checks, and verification of all information provided in the original application. The Chief of Enforcement reviews the completed background investigation and makes the decision to clear the candidate for hire or not. Those cleared for hire will move into the hiring phase.

 

Hiring Phase

Those candidates that are cleared for hire will be offered an initial duty station and if accepted a start date is agreed upon. See FAQ section below for more information on initial duty station assignments. Sometimes we find more qualified applicants than current vacancies. In those instances, candidates are ranked coming out of interviews and those who cannot be immediately hired are given the option to be put on the eligibility list. That list is valid for one year and those candidates can be picked up any time during that year as vacancies come up.

Frequently Asked Questions

What bachelor’s degree field of study do I have to have in order to apply?

A degree in any field qualifies however preferred degrees are Biology, Criminal Justice, Wildlife Management or Parks and Recreation Management.

 

The application process starts in April, but I will not get my bachelor’s degree until December. Can I still apply now?

Yes. If you are on track to get your bachelor’s degree in the same calendar year as the opening of the hiring process (see Hiring Process section above) you can apply.

 

What is an initial duty station and how are they assigned?

An initial duty station is basically your first “patrol district.” Each warden is assigned a defined geographic area of the state as their patrol district. These districts average 1800 square miles and typically only one warden covers that area. Some districts with higher populations will have more than one Game Warden as call volume is considerably higher.

Decisions on which initial duty stations are assigned to new hires involves taking into account various factors. The first and main determining factor is, what districts are currently vacant? We can only choose a district for you from the current list of open ones. From that list we try to fit the new hire into a district that we feel they will be successful and one that they would enjoy the most based on their preferences. Some other factors that weigh into the decision are any special skill sets you may possess and past work experience.

 

If I got hired can I stay where I live now?

Not likely. There are a limited number of patrol districts. Each patrol district has a game warden assigned to it. A few patrol districts have more than one warden. Those are the more populated areas like Missoula, Great Falls and Billings. The department has a limited number of Game Warden positions. So, we can’t hire someone as a Game Warden and station them where we already have a Game Warden because this would leave some other patrol district vacant.  The chances of the district where you currently live being vacant at the time you may be hired is slim. If you are serious about being a Montana Game Warden, you must be serious about living anywhere in the state at least initially.

 

Do I have to stay in my initial duty station for my entire career?

No. Upon hire we require wardens to stay at their initial duty station (see Initial Duty Stations FAQ) for 30 months. After that time frame they can start putting in requests for other vacant districts. For example, you are hired and get stationed in Libby, but you are from Billings and want to get back that way some day. After a few years one of the wardens in Billings retires. You would be able to submit a request or what we call a “bid” on that now vacant district. If multiple wardens bid on the same district there would be a competitive process established to see who is transferred.

Because we do require that wardens live within the boundaries of their patrol district there are other reasons why you may move. Sometimes it is a promotion that requires a move. Example you are working in Glasgow, but you want to put in for a sergeant position that just opened up in Great Falls. If you got the sergeant position you would have to move to Great Falls. The department does not move folks simply to move them. It is ultimately up to the warden if they want to stay where they are or put in and possibly move to a vacant district. Some wardens spend their entire career in one district while others may move several times.

 

Does Montana FWP enforcement division take lateral transfers?

We do not do lateral transfers. However, having prior experience in law enforcement either as a game warden, police officer, sheriff or similar will assist in making your application more competitive during the application phase. (see Hiring Process section above) Also, that experience should assist you during testing and interviews.

 

Is there an exemption or waiver for the degree requirement?

No, we do not have any exemptions or waivers for combinations of experience and education or for combinations of military and education.

 

Do veteran preference points apply during the hiring process?

Yes. Veteran preference points do apply at all scoring events during the process.

 

Do game wardens go to the police academy?

Yes. A Game Warden in Montana is a sworn peace officer and they have the same lawful authority as any other peace officer such as a sheriff’s deputy or city policeman. They can issue citations, arrest someone and apply for and execute search warrants. To that end they are required to attend and successfully complete the 12-week basic law enforcement academy. In addition to that training Game Wardens go through a 12-week field training program.

 

What does a game warden do all day?

That is one of the nice things about the job, every day is completely different. As a Game Warden you may be dealing with a bear in town in the morning, checking anglers on the river that afternoon and teaching a hunter education class that night. A warden may hike to several mountain lakes to patrol and spend several days/nights in the field. They might take the OHV on some trails or put the boat out on the reservoir. Game Wardens are not always working outside though. There is paperwork to be done and sometimes wardens may be inside the office for a few days working on a complex and lengthy investigation or preparing a report for a county attorney.

 

Do game wardens ever get a chance to go hunting themselves?

Game Wardens still get to go enjoy all the things most people like about Montana. That includes hunting, fishing and other forms of recreation. Yes, it is required that Game Wardens work during the hunting season, but there is still time to get out there and do some hunting. Are you able to take a whole week off during the general season and go on a backcountry hunting trip? Probably not. But Game Wardens do find time, often in the middle of the week when it is less busy, to get into the field and pursue game. Contrary to popular belief though, we don’t always know where all the elk are hiding.

 

Do I basically need to be a “Grizzly Adams” type person to be a game warden?

Although most folks drawn to this line of work have a lifetime of experience hunting and fishing, you do not have to be that person. If you have a desire to protect the natural resources of Montana, you understand the realities of the job (see Realities of the Job section above), and you are willing to learn then you should apply. We have hired wardens that had limited experiences outdoors. The job allowed them to expand their understanding of hunting and or fishing and they are now participating in those activities regularly.

 

What are the pay and benefits like?

The best source for this information, as it does change over time, is FWP Human Resources. They can be reached at 406-542-5521.

Internships

General information

The enforcement division does participate in the department’s internship program. The division will consider up to two internship positions annually. In order to qualify for the internship, you must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree while enrolled at any college or university in Montana. At the time of application, you must be a junior going into your senior year.

Applications for the enforcement division’s internship opportunities opens in January and will close late February. The selection process typically occurs in April and the selected intern(s) can start working in July. The internship is capped at 1000 hours. They start during the summer and work through the fall and spring semesters. If you are on track to graduate that first fall and not in the following spring, you can still apply. The internship announcement will be found wherever your school post all other internship opportunities – typically at the career center or advisor office.

The internship opportunity is designed for people who want to be a game warden. It is scheduled in such a way to allow for maximum experience over the course of nearly a year. A Montana Game Warden’s job is always changing with the seasons and this program provides exposure to what goes on in the summer, fall and spring. The hiring process (see Hiring Process section above) for Game Wardens usually starts in April. The intern is encouraged to apply and hopefully be able to leverage their experience gained to make themselves more competitive during the process.

 

Intern Position Description

The purpose of this position is to provide a solid training background via on-the-job professional experience to enhance the student’s ability to compete for a full-time game warden position, while providing the division with assistance in accomplishing its many missions. The intern will work under close supervision.  Work is principally accomplished during the summer break and on weekends during the school year. The intern will work with Game Wardens doing things such as routine patrol (vehicle, watercraft or other means), hunter education, hunter access projects, check stations, handling game damage complaints, dealing with injured wildlife and urban wildlife issues. They will be exposed to activities such as criminal investigations, evidence collection, building landowner/public relations, wildlife immobilization, state law, police radio use, courtroom testimony and report writing. To gain a broader exposure and to promote further learning the intern will assist front desk staff to learn about license sales, assist the public with questions and work with other divisions when opportunities arise.

Helpful Links

Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training (POST)  https://dojmt.gov/post/

 

Montana Law Enforcement Academy https://dojmt.gov/mlea/

 

Montana Physical Abilities Test (MPAT)  https://dojmt.gov/mlea/physical-fitness/