Interested in Becoming a Conservation Officer?

Conservation officer using computer in patrol vehicleThe primary duty of a conservation officer (CO) is to enforce natural resource, recreational safety and environmental protection laws. It's a demanding, sometimes dangerous, but extremely rewarding career.

CO duties vary from season to season and include observing and checking hunters and anglers, enforcing snowmobiling, off-road vehicle and watercraft regulations; enforcing laws that protect the environment; outdoor recreation safety education; writing criminal case briefs and giving court testimony. They work varied shifts, often outdoors in inclement weather. Because they enforce hunting regulations, COs often deal with those possessing firearms. As peace officers, on occasion they make physical arrests of criminals who may be intoxicated and/or disorderly.

Conservation officers in boatTo get a better idea of what COs do on a given day, browse their bi-weekly activity reports.

COs occupy various positions and levels throughout the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Promotional opportunities include specialist and supervisor positions. Specialist programs include detective, commercial fish, recreational safety, and training and employment positions. Opportunities as a supervisor range from first-line CO supervisors to top-level DNR management.

Conservation officer in firearm training

Training: Conservation officers hired by the DNR undergo extensive recruit training. Due to the focus on natural-resource and environmental protection, and the variety of issued equipment, COs are among the most highly trained and well-equipped law enforcement officers in the nation. The training program includes subjects like:

  • criminal law,
  • interview and interrogation techniques,
  • firearms tactics and safety,
  • survival tactics,
  • field trauma and first aid,
  • waterfowl identification and enforcement,
  • fish and game identification and enforcement,
  • snowmobile operation,
  • off-road vehicle operation,
  • basic and advanced marine enforcement and vessel operations,
  • tactical tracking,
  • trapping enforcement,
  • precision driving,
  • and
  • digital photography.

Field Assignments: COs in the field are assigned to one of Michigan's 83 counties as their primary work location, depending on DNR operational needs. Following successful completion of a Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) regional police academy and probationary training program, recruit COs will receive their first assignment. COs may request transfers to other vacant work locations after completing their one-year probationary period.

Education Requirements: A high-school diploma or GED is required to become a conservation officer. Although a college degree is not required at this time, college experience may enhance employment opportunities. Recommended courses include natural-resource sciences, criminal justice, sociology and all types of communication arts. Military experience can result in additional civil-service test points that may be beneficial.

Employment Process: Click here for more information about the candidate selection process.

If you have questions about becoming a conservation officer, please contact a recruiter.

Click here to contact a recruiter.

Volunteer Opportunities