Going Beyond the Badge

Doug Leier

By Doug Leier

 When it comes to work in the outdoors and natural resources fields, most people understand the role of fisheries and wildlife biologists. Talking to an upland game biologist about the pheasant counts or seeing a fisheries crew stocking pike in spring or checking nets in summer is a pretty frequent occurrence. If you see a Game and Fish truck at the gas station, it’s a little less obvious who they are and what they do.

 But game wardens are the most visible and recognized employees. The 4×4 pickup truck, badge, boat, ATV and other equipment make game wardens a little easier to identify, and we understand their role. There’s a pretty good chance they’ll also know what’s been going on at your favorite fishing spot and how the pheasant and deer numbers are around the area.

 Even more, the game warden’s job entails the most specific interaction with hunters and anglers. Checking safety equipment on the water and licenses in the field. Responding to poaching calls and regulation compliance are just a few of the duties of game wardens.

 Scott Winkelman, North Dakota Game and Fish Department enforcement division chief, provides a look at the recent statistical analysis of the enforcement division for 2022.

 “The effort and professionalism exhibited by game wardens of this fine state are second to none, and I am extremely proud of the work they all do in protecting our wildlife, habitat, and those who enjoy it,” he said. “They truly are the ‘best of the best’ in law enforcement.”

 While you may know who the local game warden is and maybe have been checked by a game warden in a different area while you were hunting and fishing, the amount of work and responsibility game wardens of North Dakota are responsible for is really eye opening.

 North Dakota has the third smallest number of wildlife law enforcement officers in the nation, with 38 full time game wardens, with each patrolling districts covering an estimated 2,438 square miles. Only Delaware (30) and Rhode Island (32) have fewer game wardens. When you consider that those states are about the same size as Cass and Grand Forks counties, it really is a testament to the amount of great work our game wardens do.

 Below you’ll see some numbers to help quantify the field contacts, incidents and citiations from the most recent year. It is important to note that by state law all fines and fees collected due to convictions for these citations are paid to the county where the violation occurred and added to the state school fund. The Game and Fish Department does not receive any funding from the fines or fees associated with citations issued.

2022 Citations

Big Game

Illegal taking/possession of big game 42

Total 139

Small Game

Exceeding Limit 56

Total 292


Inadequate number of PFDs 268

Total 673


Exceed Limit 86

Total 323


Use of motor vehicle off established trail 61

Total 177


Hunting/fishing/trapping without proper license 222

Total 480

Wildlife Management Areas

Failure to obey posted regulations 52

Total 109


Possession of controlled substance 37

Total 202

2022 Field Contacts

Resident 34,008

Nonresident 12,555

2022 Highest Incidence by County

Ramsey 235

McLean 165

Total 2,730

2022 Citations Top Counties

Ramsey 324

Williams 123

Total 2,389

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