Information for Conservation Officer Job Seekers - Overview

Hello and thanks for your interest in the Idaho Conservation Officer position. Please view our latest recruitment video.

We typically announce the Conservation Officer position once a year, so watch our web site and sign up for job announcement alerts. The number of vacancies does vary from year to year depending on retirements and other attrition factors.

Although a degree is not necessary, you must have completed 4 upper level college courses in wildlife/fish management at minimum. These courses may include Wildlife Management, Fishery Management, Population Ecology, Mammalogy, Ornithology, Wildlife Ecology, etc. The four class minimum is not optional and cannot be substituted for by anything else. Some of these courses might be available on line. Some on line colleges you might look at are American Public University or Eastern Oregon University. It will be important that the online college you attend is “Regionally” accredited you can use this web site to check your university for accreditation.

**Combined with the minimum four classes, ideal candidates should have a minimum of one year of natural resource field position experience.
*Applicants with a BS/BA degree in Wildlife/Fish Management are most competitive.

Since conservation officers are Idaho POST certified and attend the Idaho police academy, being a good citizen and obeying the law are critical. While we do not expect perfection; any felony conviction, recent use (within 3 years) of controlled substances, and misdemeanor convictions involving assault and battery are some of the offenses likely to disqualify you. *Marijuana use is illegal in Idaho and might be a disqualifier even if you ingested/smoked it in a state with differing laws. An intensive background check, polygraph exam, psychological exam and medical exam are also part of the initial hiring process and failing even one of those tests could result in not getting hired.

Some things you can do to improve your experience level include actively participating in ride-a-longs with our officers (or your local DNR or Fish/Wildlife agency if not in Idaho), volunteering at check stations or as Hunter education instructors and demonstrating an interest and understanding of fishing and hunting techniques. You can contact any of our regional offices (phone on IDFG website) to speak with the Regional conservation officer to help facilitate a ride along. Please treat any ride alongs as potential learning opportunities and come prepared with questions for the officer on job related issues such as: primary job duties, favorite aspects of the job, benefit and salary information, and what makes them passionate about their jobs. Since our regional conservation officers are extremely busy, please exercise patience while pursuing volunteer opportunities. *Instructing hunter education, volunteering, and setting up ride alongs shows initiative and self-motivation.*

If becoming an officer is something you would truly be interested in as a career path I would encourage you to follow up and add those things to your resume. Any job experience with IDFG or other land management/resource management agencies is very beneficial and can help you form an institutional wisdom about the career choice you wish to enter into. Many temporary IDFG jobs are available seasonally within our fisheries and wildlife programs to help gain that valuable experience. Those opportunities can be referenced on our department website. Previous experience with a law enforcement agency can also be valuable experience to add to a resume.

As an entry level position, we have an expectation that potential new officers are willing to be located in any part of Idaho that has a vacancy; we cannot accommodate requests to be placed in specific areas.

Conservation officers are the only personnel within the department who are specifically trained to enforce wildlife laws and other Idaho state codes. Conservation Officers are Idaho Fish and Game’s front line Bridge to local communities. It is important that officers can communicate the principles and reasons why seasons, bag limits, and rules exist to the public they serve. They must also communicate their field observations to fish and wildlife managers in a credible manner. We are interested in finding folks with the educational background and the right talents or gifts to be a CO. Some of the talents include:

  • Good communication skills that allow you to visit with landowners, sportsmen, the public, and agency personnel. CO’s interact with all these people, understanding that each group has a different culture and requires communication in terms they understand and can relate to.
  • CO’s need to learn and adapt quickly to understand complex information in order to be problem solvers.
  • CO’s need high energy levels; they are self-starters with the capacity to self-motivate and must be able to multi-task.
  • CO’s need to be somewhat assertive: When the situation calls for quick action and decision making, CO’s have to be assertive. But they also need to be understanding and diplomatic. This is a tough line to understand and walk.
  • CO’s must be diplomatic and communicate/interact with all types of people while sometimes maintaining a level of skepticism. In LE situations, some people are going to hide things from you. Diplomatically, you need to interact with them, knowing they may be violating and hiding something from you.
  • CO’s work alone with little or no supervision. They work in remote areas by themselves; this can be tough. CO’s must be able to switch gears between interacting with others in large numbers and with working alone for many days in a row. Most CO’s are independent and adventurous.
  • CO’s have to be decisive, make the right decisions quickly, and accept the risks associated with quick decisions.

All officers are issued a take home 4wd pickup truck and an ATV or motorcycle (sometimes shared) at minimum, with some officers being issued more specialized equipment such as a jet boat or horse trailer for hauling stock. All law enforcement equipment and initial training including the Idaho state police academy (POST) is furnished by Fish and Game. Once off probation, officers get a yearly boot allowance ($150) and can receive incentive money for scoring above the 60th national percentile in twice yearly physical fitness testing. Officers are encouraged to participate in/coordinate wildlife and fisheries management projects within their patrol districts and regions to achieve a more well-rounded view of the resources they are protecting.

For more information on current job announcements, please go to our web site at idfg.idaho.gov/jobs

Once you get to our Fish and Game site there is a link to Idaho’s Department of Human Resource site (http://www.dhr.idaho.gov/). Once there click on “Job Seekers”, then “Automatic Job Notifications”. You can also locate the job description for Conservation Officer, and then use the link at the top of that page to access the automatic job notification system.

Thanks again for your interest and I look forward to possibly hearing from you in the future!

Matt O’Connell
Assistant Chief of Enforcement, IDFG
208-287-2762