Conservation Law Enforcement Corner – March 2024

Highlighting The Work Of Georgia DNR Rangers To Stop Illegal Activities

GON Staff | March 3, 2024

Recruiting New Game Wardens

Under a new initiative, the Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Division (LED) hopes to make becoming a Game Warden a path that is open to a wider pool of applicants. As of Jan. 1, 2024, DNR no longer requires a college degree for Game Warden applicants. The new initiative is called ADAPT, which stands for Accelerated Degree Advancement Promotional Track.

Of Georgia’s 159 counties, there are currently 30 that have vacant Game Warden positions. There is funding available to fill 19 of those vacant positions. On the map to the right, the counties in orange denote vacant counties without an assigned Game Warden because there is not enough funding.

Col. Mike England, Director of Law Enforcement, said, “The vacant county may have a sergeant or captain living there, but they are not assigned to patrol that county. So we have 21 counties without an assigned Game Warden. The blue is where our 18 Cadets are assigned to go after graduating from the Game Warden Academy on April 26, 2024. The green is vacant counties without a Game Warden that we have funding for to hire.”

The ADAPT Initiative allows applicants who have a high school diploma or GED to begin their career as a Game Warden, while LED supports and guides them in obtaining their college education. DNR does not pay for their education but provides guidance and opportunities with colleges.

Game Wardens hired through the ADAPT initiative must obtain at least an associate degree or 60 semester hours within four years if they want to compete to Corporal promotion.

“This is not a lowering of the standards, but rather a widening of the application pool,” LED said. “It helps them achieve the next level of education without having to put their career aspirations on hold. It helps the Division with our commitment to diversity, education and recruiting individuals from various backgrounds to become Game Wardens.”

Athens Technical College is one of several Georgia institutions now offering associate degrees that prepare students for a career in Conservation Law Enforcement. The college described the degree as “a unique interdisciplinary program that combines fisheries and wildlife management and criminal justice courses that prepares students for a career at the intersection of those fields. The program was part of a recent expansion of the Elbert County campus. We have brand-new state-of-the-art equipment and facilities including a boat, tractor, truck and utility vehicle.”

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Currently, the starting pay for a Georgia Game Warden is $52,000.  However, Gov. Brian Kemp has proposed an increase of Game Warden starting pay to $58,000 in the state’s new budget.

Col. England said, “We are accepting applications until May 1st to fill those 14 vacant positions. Today, we have 242 applications for those positions.”

Those 14 new hires will start in September of 2024 and go to work in the counties denoted in green on the map.

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