Who employs Conservation Officers in Pennsylvania?

  • In Pennsylvania, there is a separate agency for wildlife administration, the Pa Game Commission; and an agency for fish and waterways management, the Pa Fish & Boat Commission.

How can I prepare for a career as a Conservation Officer?

  • Most states require some college education. Even if it is not required, a solid background in wildlife management, forestry, environmental science are good choices. In addition, police science and public speaking are helpful.
  • Physical fitness is a plus, as well as practical knowledge and experience in hunting and fishing. Also, be knowledgeable of the wildlife laws of the state you are interested in.

Can I increase my chances?

  • There are several things you can do to enhance your standing for a career as a WCO.
  • Individuals that have served in the military gain much experience and an advantage in civil service considerations.
  • Experience serving as a law enforcement officer is sometimes given consideration.
  • In Pennsylvania, there are volunteers called Deputy Wildlife Conservation Officers and Deputy Waterways Conservation Officers. Individuals that have experience as deputies, increase their chances for being selected in a highly competitive testing program for selection as conservation officers.

Who do I contact?

For more information about a career in Pa, you can contact the State Headquarters.

Pennsylvania Game Commission
2001 Elmerton Ave
Harrisburg Pa 17110-9797
Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission
1601 Elmerton Ave
Harrisburg Pa 17106-7000

What are my chances ... ?

  • With all of the above being said, you should be aware that the openings for conservation officers are limited, and in Pennsylvania, many applicants apply several times before eventually being accepted in the PGC's Ross Leffler Training School or the PF&BC's Stackhouse Training School. Should you find yourself unsuccessful initially, try, try again.

Are there other ways to gain experience or knowledge? 

  • Most conservation agencies publish a periodical that might be of value
  • You might also check with Ducks Unlimited. That organization publishes an outstanding bi-monthly magazine, but also has conservation projects ongoing throughout North America, mostly in Canada. These projects offer valuable experience gained through working summers in wetland restoration, banding waterfowl, and other projects.

What hours do Conservation Officers work?

  • We are based on a 40 hour work week, and hours very to meet the demands. Sometimes through the night, many evenings, Saturdays and Sundays. Most WCOs rack up a considerable amount of overtime through the course of a year.

What does a Conservation Officer do?

  • WCO's are primarily law enforcement officers that specialize in wildlife laws. A WCO works from an office in his/her home, and patrols an assigned district of about 350 square miles.
  • WCOs deal with the hunting and fishing public year round, at sportsmen's club meetings, fairs, hunter/trapper education and boating safety classes, etc. In addition, we meet with other agencies to advise on wildlife issues, and schools and civic organizations to promote conservation education.
  • We also assist other law enforcement officers with lost hunters, hikers and fishermen, traffic accidents, escaped felons, and on sight crimes, etc. WCO's are also called on to assist in forest fire suppression, flood relief, and other natural disasters.
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