Montana Game Wardens

katqanna

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Montana game wardens leaving for greener pastures

Montana game wardens are peace officers, just like police officers or sheriff's deputies, but their jurisdiction is limited to enforcing fish and wildlife laws.

Starting pay is $19.79 an hour, which is $41,163 annually.

By comparison, Cascade County Sheriff's Office deputies start at $22.02 an hour, or $43,721 annually, which is $2.21 more an hour or $2,558 more annually than FWP game wardens.

Starting pay at the Montana Highway Patrol is $21.63 an hour.

As of May 2014, the mean hourly wage for game wardens nationally was $25.61 an hour, or $53,260 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"I think it's obviously a problem that needs fixing," said Jason Snyder. "If you want to attract good applicants, you have to pay them."...

His first year in Washington, he made around $71,000, including overtime, he said. His last year working in Montana, he said he made around $42,000. In Washington, wildlife officers also enforce traffic and public safety laws, not just wildlife laws, but the work is about the same, he said.

Snyder says the "Big Sky tax" — the idea that people must be willing to work for less in Montana for the opportunity to live here — was too high for him...

It costs $8,000 to train a warden, with the funding coming largely from license fees. "We're throwing money out the window," Kropp said...

Sometimes residents of other states who have watched the program call FWP to learn more about game warden job opportunities in Montana.

"The bottom line is they do call and they ask, 'What's your pay structure?' Kropp said. "And when they find out, they just kind of laugh and we don't hear from them again.' "
 

Sytes

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There is truth to Kropp's words. Thankfully the wardens in NW MT I know have a love for the duty as a warden...
We complain about poachers getting away yet we complain about a resident rate hike. Complain about this and that not being enforced yet shoot down regulations that would ease the burden on wardens trying to do their job and return home each day to their families.

:confused: They deserve better. The thin blue line is there. I wish more residents could understand.
 

dan.kirkpatrick

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maybe if montana dropped there non-resident tag prices to a reasonable level,they might get more income from non-residents so they could pay there game wardens a competitive wage,instead of having leftover tags not purchased at all.montana is way down on my list of where to spend my money on tags as a non -resident looking for best bang for the buck IMHO.
 

Dan O

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The wage differences have always been there. For a while the city police depts. will lead the pay scale then it will switch to the counties then the MHP. Each agency can justify why they should make more than they do. This have been going on forever I worked for the Cascade County Sheriffs Office from 1976 until I retired in 2004. In todays work force everyone wants the newest and best equipment and the best benefits and pay because they deserve it. Well wake up boys and girls there is just so much money to go around. Hang in there and enjoy your work and do the best possible job for the citizens of your community and have a great career. If you want to make money go to law school or get into politics.
Dan O
 

JLS

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Life is all about tradeoffs. If you want to attract, hire, and retain good people then you need to pay them. It ain't rocket science. If you're okay with a higher than average level of attrition and the associated costs of paying to train people, only to watch them leave, then the status quo is probably just fine. However, not only do you lose good personnel that you invested time and money to train, you also lose institutional knowledge, and lose from your pool of potential leaders and managers down the road.

There is only so much money for wages because of the continued mindset in Montana that it's not important to offer competitive wages. Until that mindset changes, the problem will continue to exist.

Yes, of course there is better money in certain careers. However, if you want the best people possible in the law enforcement field, then pay them such that they don't have to worry about second jobs in order to live comfortably and pay the bills.
 

LopeHunter

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Certainly the vacancies are a symptom. I do not think the starting base wage is an issue. The median wage (rookies, most senior, etc) nationwide is around 10% higher than the rookie wage for MT F&G. The warden that left for WA did not break out the overtime component so not sure if got paid $1000s more in base wage ($0.50 an hour increase in wage is about $1000 a year in gross wages).

I would be interested to know two things. Average W2 for wardens on the job for over one year and job satisfaction survey results. I suspect the morale issue is more than having a starting wage 10% below median wage for all wardens.

The scarcity of jobs for spouses might be an issue for wardens with remote territories, especially if wardens are required to have a college degree since that makes it more likely the spouse also has a college degree.

Frustration with management, frustration with DAs and courts, lack of overtime as way to supplement base pay, level of benefits, etc. may rank higher on the list of concerns with wardens.

I find it hard to believe a candidate warden calls up Montana, hears the starting wage is within 10% of median was for wardens nationwide and that is the reason the candidate never follows up to seek employment. I could be wrong about that. My hunch is wages are not the primary issue at hand. The delta is just not that significant in starting wage vs. nationwide median wage.
 

mtmander

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When looking for a job, I always considered the total ,( salary, benefits, medical, trainong, location,, cost of living, etc.....). There is more to a job than wages.
 

Nameless Range

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Well said JLS.

Sure there is more to a job than base pay. But, as a coworker of mine once said, "I can't eat my benefits."

The "Big Sky Tax" is real, and perhaps warranted. I'll continue to make less money than the nationwide market value for my position to live here, as will most Montanans. Montanans are the least likely to leave their state of all the states.

Perhaps though, when things like income tax and cost of living are figured in, we should be paying our Wardens more. They, like most LE employees, have incredibly difficult jobs, and 10% really is a decent chunk of change to someone making 20$ an hour.
 

JLS

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Certainly the vacancies are a symptom. I do not think the starting base wage is an issue. The median wage (rookies, most senior, etc) nationwide is around 10% higher than the rookie wage for MT F&G. The warden that left for WA did not break out the overtime component so not sure if got paid $1000s more in base wage ($0.50 an hour increase in wage is about $1000 a year in gross wages).

I would be interested to know two things. Average W2 for wardens on the job for over one year and job satisfaction survey results. I suspect the morale issue is more than having a starting wage 10% below median wage for all wardens.

The scarcity of jobs for spouses might be an issue for wardens with remote territories, especially if wardens are required to have a college degree since that makes it more likely the spouse also has a college degree.

Frustration with management, frustration with DAs and courts, lack of overtime as way to supplement base pay, level of benefits, etc. may rank higher on the list of concerns with wardens.

I find it hard to believe a candidate warden calls up Montana, hears the starting wage is within 10% of median was for wardens nationwide and that is the reason the candidate never follows up to seek employment. I could be wrong about that. My hunch is wages are not the primary issue at hand. The delta is just not that significant in starting wage vs. nationwide median wage.

Do you have in inside source of information here, or are you just speculating? You certainly seem to directly downplay the issues, despite what those directly involved have said in reference to them.
 

shoots-straight

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maybe if montana dropped there non-resident tag prices to a reasonable level,they might get more income from non-residents so they could pay there game wardens a competitive wage,instead of having leftover tags not purchased at all.montana is way down on my list of where to spend my money on tags as a non -resident looking for best bang for the buck IMHO.

The increase saved our bacon. We made far more money with less tags sold.

NEXT!
 

EBOLAVIRS

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Having been involved in the recruiting of people for government jobs, I can tell you the new generation out there is much more concerned about "what does this job do for me" than previous generations. Pay is one component they ask about but also other benefits like paid time off, medical, and retirement, are carefully considered.

Current candidates are much less area loyal than those of years past and are not worried about moving several states away to achieve better pay. They have watched their fathers and grandfathers receive very little, if anything in return for their loyalty to corporations or government employers and go into their careers telling themselves they will never be loyal to anyone but themselves. They know they are just a number on a piece of paper in the grand scheme of things.
 

.280 Remington

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Boohoo. Wages are lower for everyone in the state. Get used to it.

I've watched the wardens show. In comparison to regular law enforcement officers, they spend a TON on what amounts to misdemeanor offenses. I'm not saying that it is unjustified, but it is something to think about.
 

LopeHunter

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Do you have in inside source of information here, or are you just speculating? You certainly seem to directly downplay the issues, despite what those directly involved have said in reference to them.

No inside info on MT wardens issues. I do recruit and hire folks and not always at above industry average compensation packages. Earnings are a factor. Also factors: importance of the role in the organization, ability for the role to further career growth, personal challenge, ability to take time off from work (vacation and leaves), how well does the team share knowledge, does the organization embrace change, does the organization adopt best practices, etc.

The delta on base wages in MT is less than 10%, correct. If you can only frame your recruiting efforts as a comparison of base wages and you are offering within 10% of nationwide median yet your efforts get you zero qualified entry-level candidates then there are other issues, in my opinion.

Retaining seasoned employees is a different issue but entry-level recruits want to hear about the mission and the opportunity as much or more than the $42 difference in weekly take home they can get if instead take a job in some other state.
 

jryoung

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I've watched the wardens show. In comparison to regular law enforcement officers, they spend a TON on what amounts to misdemeanor offenses. I'm not saying that it is unjustified, but it is something to think about.

You realize reality TV is completely altered, spun and sensationalized for presentation to the masses right? Basing any opinion of what actually happens v. what comes through the boob toob is a terrible way to make decisions.
 

Chucknduck

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Should pay them the same as sheriffs and let them both enforce game laws. And let game wardens enforce other offences. That would give more enforcement on both sides.
 

noharleyyet

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You realize reality TV is completely altered, spun and sensationalized for presentation to the masses right? Basing any opinion of what actually happens v. what comes through the boob toob is a terrible way to make decisions.

...which is exactly why any organization that relies on integrity and credibility should avoid being part of one. No?
 

Sytes

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In Alaska, they are all state troopers and then are designated as wildlife troopers.

I think they are a good model to follow... though I am curious, by operating as a "Statie" are regulations then left to our wreckless legislature to define what is good for the gander?
 

Nameless Range

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...which is exactly why any organization that relies on integrity and credibility should avoid being part of one. No?

Say what you will about the tv show Wardens, but I'm not sure if this is true.

Police departments across the country, most branches of the military, and numerous game and fish agencies across the US have participated in reality television on some level, for better or for worse.

I watch Wardens, and perhaps the elk tagging incident is a black eye, but for the most part I think the show does a good job displaying the important and often(clearly) thankless work game wardens do.
 
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