This spring, whether you are driving into the woods at oh-dark-thirty to call turkeys, dusting off your paddleboarding gear, digging delicious razor clams, or photographing spring birds on public lands, you might encounter a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) law enforcement officer in your outdoor pursuits.
Through our Enforcement Program, WDFW currently has more than 140 dedicated law enforcement officers located across the state. Our officers specialize in enforcing Title 77—the Washington state fish and wildlife statutes—but they also enforce boating safety regulations, Department of Health Shellfish regulations, forest products regulations, and all other criminal laws on state and federal lands and waters.
Our officers respond to a wide array of calls for service and we’re always looking for good talent to join this dedicated team. Visit our jobs webpage to learn more.
Now, more than ever, we need good people interested in pursuing this selfless and rewarding career to step up. To become a Fish and Wildlife officer, applicants go through an extensive application and review process, background screening, attendance at Washington’s Basic Law Enforcement Academy (4.5 months) then WDFW’s In-House Academy (2 Months), followed by completion of the Field Training Program (3.5 months).
This level of training takes dedication and hard work, but it is worth it—our officers have the best job. As they share in this video, you can find them aboard an ocean vessel during a midnight crab opener, responding to and coordinating a backcountry mountain rescue, patrolling the Columbia River for sturgeon and salmon compliance, relocating a mother moose and calf that wandered into a neighborhood, diving the Puget Sound to locate geoduck traffickers, patrolling wildlife areas and water access sites, rushing an injured snowmobiler or hiker through hazardous conditions to reach medical aid, even checking restaurants and fish markets to make sure the local fish and shellfish are safe for the public to enjoy.
If you get the chance to meet an officer while you are recreating in one of the many wonderful locations around the state, know they are there to help by providing local knowledge and the regulations for that area. They may ask to see your license or permits and inspect your gear and any fish or wildlife you may have harvested. They may also check for safety gear such as Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs). Officers have a lot of ground (and water) to cover across the state; they rely heavily on citizens who report crimes when they see a fish and wildlife violation happening. Poaching steals fish and wildlife resources and opportunities from the rest of us that correctly follow the regulations and tips help to bring poachers to justice.
The outdoors is open to everyone. WDFW officers help level the playing field by deterring poaching while supporting public safety and providing service for all Washingtonians. If you see an officer patrolling give them a wave or stop and say hi. Afterall, you can’t have an enjoyable experience outdoors if it isn’t a safe place to enjoy.
Kelly Susewind, Director
WDFW Police prepare a raft for a float patrol on a coastal river near Forks, Washington.