There are many careers at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, but none are as well-known as the game warden. I spent 15 years as a game warden, stationed in Laramie, Glendo, Casper, Elk Mountain and Pinedale. It’s an understatement to say those were some of the best days of my life. I was outside every day, snow or sun.
Sometimes I patrolled by truck or boat. I spent many days horseback in some of Wyoming’s wildest places and a lot of miles on foot. That time — and the wear on my boots — was more than OK with me. I’m passionate about working on behalf of Wyoming's outdoors, wildlife, hunters and anglers, and this was inspired by a Wyoming game warden.
My first interaction with a warden was a brisk, October morning. I was a 14-year-old kid hunting with my father and his good friend when, for the first time, I met a game warden in the field. The quick interaction made a big impression on me, and I decided then and there I wanted to be a Wyoming game warden too.
By design the Wyoming warden is one of the most diverse and fascinating jobs in the West. It’s an exciting position only about 70 people hold at any given time. The role demands the ability to excel in four main areas: law enforcement, wildlife management, wildlife conflict handling and public outreach. Game wardens spend one-third of their time enforcing fish, wildlife and boating laws and work hard to protect Wyoming's diverse and abundant wildlife resource. They also take an active role in wildlife management, collecting and analyzing biological data for use in managing fish and wildlife populations.
Further, a game warden is often the public face of the Game and Fish and is the person most likely to meet and work with the public, ranging from mitigating wildlife damages to private property, checking harvested game or giving tips on where to go for your outdoor experience.
There is no typical day for a game warden because each brings something new. This is not an 8-to-5 job, either. The warden’s office for the most part is his or her patrol vehicle and the wildlands of Wyoming. If there is a problem with poachers illegally spot-lighting, wardens might start work after dark and may stay out until the sun comes up. A game warden tailors the day to best fit the situation — each day is different from the last. My favorite activities were protecting vulnerable big game on winter ranges from poaching, patrolling the remote backcountry and flying aerial big game classifications.
Last year didn’t slow down the day-to-day operations of the warden. In 2020, law enforcement logged more than 53,000 hours and patrolled 636,730 miles by truck and boat. While more people enjoyed the outdoors throughout the pandemic, citations wardens issued dipped slightly. We’re grateful for that and appreciate the fact that most people are compliant with wildlife and boating laws and believe in taking care of the outdoors.
If you have a question about wildlife or fish Wyoming’s wardens are a top-notch resource. They know the territory, the landowners, the public access and regulations and they want to get to know you, too.
Introduce yourself to the local warden. Not only will you better your experience outdoors, you’ll mark off one of the activities on the Game and Fish Inspire a Kid WYO 100 checklist (available at the Sheridan Regional office). That interaction is priceless. After all, meeting a warden afield is the reason I am here today. I hope that whether you are nine or 90, our red shirts will keep inspiring you.