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.' "