Point Blank

By Daniel Boyco

Getting there from here

The most common question we receive at the Alberta Game Warden magazine is how to become an Alberta Fish and Wildlife officer. The following is a brief synopsis of the position, the requisite qualifications and the hiring process.

The Fish and Wildlife Division (FWD) is responsible for protecting, preserving and managing Alberta's fish and wildlife resources. Law enforcement is an important element of successful environmental management and Fish and Wildlife officers provide the front line effort. They are responsible for ensuring compliance with provincial and federal laws and regulations (see Common Laws on page 5 of this issue) by monitoring hunters, anglers, trappers, commercial fishermen, industry and other persons, firms or agencies whose unregulated activities could detrimentally affect Alberta's resources. In addition, officers are responsible for maintaining public relations and dispensing information, assisting other department personnel and, from time to time, providing support to other law enforcement agencies. Other duties may include issuing various licenses and permits, inspecting commercial operations relating to fish and wildlife and providing information to licensing agents.

Fish and Wildlife officers play an active roll in prevention, mitigation and compensation programs associated with problem wildlife. They act on wildlife/human conflicts that may pose a safety concern and investigate complaints of property damage caused by wildlife. For example, Fish and Wildlife officers examine livestock kills to determine if a predator such as a bear, wolf or cougar is responsible and then initiate control action to prevent further attacks.

Officers deliver a variety of public service programs by representing the division in the media, at schools, sportsmen's clubs, civic groups or other gatherings. They regularly work on weekends and holidays when the public is most active and are expected to respond after normal working hours to violations and occurrences involving serious human/wildlife conflicts.

A Fish and Wildlife officer may be stationed at any one of 61 districts across the province. For developmental purposes, an officer will usually be transferred at least once during his/her first few years of employment. As an officer's career progresses, opportunities for transfer and advancement are available. Transfers may also take place to address operational needs of the division.

Applicants require a four-year applied degree in conservation law enforcement or a technical diploma or Bachelors Degree in the resource management field and directly related conservation law enforcement experience. Applicants must posses a valid Class 5 operator's licence, have a clean criminal record and be eligible to hold a Special Constable Appointment.

Those who possess the requisite qualifications may be invited to participate in a behavioral event interview, where a panel of recruiters will investigate the applicant's personal suitability and skill level. A written examination is used to test for technical knowledge of the position. Following a successful interview and written test, an in-depth background/reference check is conducted. Applicants must be in good physical condition and be able to pass a physical abilities test. They must also meet comprehensive vision, hearing, medical and psychological standards in order to progress to the next step. Failure to pass any stage in the selection process would result in disqualification.

Entry-level Fish and Wildlife officers must undergo a one-year supervised probationary period and successfully complete approximately 20 weeks of in-service training. The officer is eligible for permanent employment following successful completion of the probationary period.

This information has been provided courtesy of Justice and Solicitor General, Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch. Daniel Boyco is a member of the Alberta Game Warden Association in Edmonton.