Refuge Law Enforcement

Protecting Your National Wildlife Refuges

What are the duties of a Federal Wildlife Officer?

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Federal Wildlife Officers’ (FWO) work for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Division of Refuge Law Enforcement, which offers a supportive and a culturally diverse work environment. Each day brings a new adventure and the ability to work in the great outdoors. Training, equipment and uniforms are provided and officers are encouraged to take on more advanced responsibilities such as a field training officer or an instructor.


What is the Required Training?

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Upon appointment, the candidate will receive approximately 16 weeks of intensive training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Brunswick, GA. Upon, graduation, trainees will complete an additional three weeks of training at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV for Federal Wildlife Officer Basic Training (FWOBT). After completion of FWOBT, trainees will then complete 10 weeks of field training.


What are some other training requirements?

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Each year, FWO’s are required to complete 40 hours of law enforcement refresher training. Officers must qualify bi-annually on all issued firearms. Certification training for off-road vehicles, motorboats/airboats, chainsaw and many more may be offered, subject to manager approval. Advanced training for becoming an instructor, field training officer, fire fighter and many more may be offered as well, pending manager approval.


What is the promotion potential?

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Entry level for FWO’s is at the GL-5 level. Full performance in a non-supervisory, non-senior position is GL-9. Senior FWO’s (canine handler, easement officers, manatee officer and senior field training officer) are at the GL-11 level. Supervisor’s and Zone Officers are GL-11/12.


Where do Federal Wildlife Officer’s work?

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There are over 560 National Wildlife Refuges and 38 wetland management districts located in all 50 states and a dozen territories. Visit fws.gov for more information. Each FWO is assigned to a specific refuge, or a complex of refuges.


Are uniforms required?

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Yes. Uniforms are supplied by USFWS.


Are firearms required?

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Yes. Carrying a firearm while on duty is required. Weapons are provided by USFWS.


What are the benefits earned by Federal Wildlife Officers?

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Retirement becomes mandatory at age 57 with 20 years of Federal Law Enforcement service. Low-cost health, dental, vision, long-term care, and life insurance may be obtained through Federal employee programs. Annual leave accrues at the rate of 13-16 days per year, based on length of service. Sick leave is earned at the rate of 13 days per year. There are 10 paid Federal holidays per year.

Who We Are

Federal Wildlife Officer doing biology.

What We Do

Federal Wildlife Officer.

Career Information

Federal Wildlife Officers.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
Last modified: April 29, 2016
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.