Law Enforcement

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Law enforcement is an integral part of managing the National Wildlife Refuge System.  Refuge law enforcement officers are responsible for upholding federal laws and regulations that protect natural resources, the public, and employees. 

 Refuge Law Enforcement Objectives  

•To protect refuge visitors and employees from disturbance or harm by others.

•To assist visitors in understanding refuge laws, regulations, and the reasons for them. 

•To enhance the management and protection of fish and wildlife resources on refuges.

•To ensure the legally prescribed, equitable use of fish and wildlife resources on refuges.

•To obtain compliance with laws and regulations necessary for the proper administration, management, and protection of the National Wildlife Refuge System

Refuge Officer Qualifications  

Refuge officers are commissioned law enforcement officers. You are required to carry firearms and other defensive equipment; therefore, you must be at least 18 years old, and physically and emotionally fit. A 2 or 4-year degree in natural resources conservation, criminal justice, or a related field is desirable, although applicable experience may be substituted for education.

Needless to say, you must like working outdoors in all kinds of weather! You also must enjoy working with people, because most of your job will consist of contacting and interacting with refuge visitors, neighbors, and other employees.

We suggest that you visit a national wildlife refuge and talk to the staff or an officer, if possible.

Physical Fitness

Physical fitness is crucial in obtaining and maintaining a commission. Before entry and then annually, officers must undergo a physical examination and be physically and medically capable of performing the essential duties of the position efficiently, without hazard to themselves or others.

Other Tests Performed

You must pass a series of psychological screening tests before entry.


You must be between the ages of 18 and 37 before entry.

Background investigation

You must undergo an initial background investigation.

Drug tests

You must be tested before entry, and periodically thereafter.

Firearms Qualifications

You must qualify periodically with the weapons that you carry.


After being selected, you must successfully complete different phases of training as a refuge officer:

•18 weeks at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia.

•2 weeks of Refuge Officer Basic School.

•10 weeks of the Field Training and Evaluation Program.

Your performance will be evaluated in all phases of the training.






New TIPS Line for Reporting Violations

The Division of Refuge Law Enforcement has established a Refuge System Turn In Poachers (TIPs) Line to help visitors and other members of the public report violations occurring on Service-managed lands. The TIPs Line consists of a toll-free phone number, 1-844-NWR-TIPS (697-8477), and an email address, Both are available 24 hours a day, and monitored Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Refuge Headquarters will review all information provided and forward it to the appropriate federal wildlife officer. When reporting violations, the public is asked to leave the date, location (refuge name or county/state), approximate time of the incident and type of incident. Callers may leave their name and contact information, which will aid law enforcement in the response and investigation, or they may choose to remain anonymous. Any contact information provided will be used for official purposes only.