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Conservation Police or Border Patrol Agent


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  • Conservation Police or Border Patrol Agent

    If you were given the chance to become a Game Warden in Illinois or become a Border Patrol Agent, which would you pick and why? I’m interested in hearing everyone’s opinions.

  • #2
    Only common factor with those two jobs is they are both outside, and your back up maybe be few and far between.

    They both have vary different missions. Border patrol is protecting our borders and checking IDs. Some drug interdiction and human trafficking. Duty stations all over the US ( along Canada and Mexico) Conservative officer dealing with hunters and crimes against wildlife and nature. Out alone working a case until filled. Dealing with some domestic violence issue sin campgrounds to Yogi bear getting picnic baskets. Starting from home each day and changing your hours. Only stay in Illinois. Both have pros and cons. It all depends on what you want to do in your career.

    You can break it down to what the pay and benefits are like. Hows the retirement for both. Hows the medical plans as of now. Do you have a family or will you have a family. Which medical plan is better for that. Which give you flexibility with a family?

    When I was looking for departments I looked into the medical plans offered and what copays were for doctor visits and medicine. I looked into the MOUs for departments. I looked at the housing and schools. All of that plays a factor.

    I love being outside but know squat about hunting. Only a few gigs in border patrol interested me. But I went with my local specialized police department that later got taken over by the local sheriff's department.
    I'd rather be judged by 12 rather carried by 6.

    It should be noted that any and all post that are made are based on my own thought and opinions. And are not related or implied to represent the department I work for.


    • #3
      I appreciate the information and insight. Yes, I understand all the factors that weigh in on the matter. Such as, retirement, family, and which interests me the most. I’ve been bouncing the thought of it around for sometime now and it remains the same. I’m deeply interested in both careers.

      I believe Game Wardens have the better retirement here in IL from what I’ve gathered. BP pays more just based off of the special pay from night differential, Sunday pay, holidays, etc..I could be earning close to six figures after half a decade or sooner if I’m high speed and put in the time.

      However, as for family, I have a girlfriend that will soon be a fiancé, that has never been out of central IL. We both have family here and starting a family of our own halfway across the country would be difficult.

      One point you brought up that I will have to continue to research is the medical. I’m among the final stages for both positions and the decision hasn’t gotten any easier.


      • #4
        Originally posted by moparfan View Post

        When I was looking for departments I looked into the medical plans offered and what copays were for doctor visits and medicine.

        Those "factors" change as the winds flow.

        My current plan is nothing like the plan I signed up for when I started working for the state........................Political changes and legislation bastardized the coverage and price over the last 40 yrs
        Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

        My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS


        • #5
          If Game Wardens in IL are anything like they are here in Ohio, then you're also looking at a big difference in chances of getting hired. While Border Patrol seems to always be looking for warm bodies (right now...obviously that could change tomorrow depending on politics), Game Warden positions are much rarer and those who hold them tend to have specialized degrees in conservation and the like.
          "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
          -Friedrich Nietzsche


          • #6
            Conservation police officer jobs are among the most coveted law enforcement jobs in my state. There's only about 50 officers throughout our entire state (in contrast to, say our state police, which has 1000+ troopers), and they don't hire very often as there's not a lot of turnover. Unlike some states, they are also full police officers with statewide jurisdiction to enforce any and all laws at their discretion, regardless of whether or not it's related to environmental conservation. They also function as the state park police. They can, and do, respond to things like domestic violence, shootings, and other emergencies off of state game and park property if they are the closest officer and/or there are no state troopers or municipal officers available. They're also among the most highly trained police officers in the state. Not only do they attend the state POST academy, they have months of agency specific training in environmental science, hunting, fishing, and boating laws, tracking and land navigation, outdoor survival, boating, and off road vehicles...and that's all before FTO. I haven't met a conservation officer yet who didn't absolutely love his job.
            "If the police have to come get you, they're bringing an @$$ kicking with them!"
            -Chris Rock


            • #7
              Conservation Officers are not the most covered law enforcement job in my state. They fall in line with Parks police who are referred to as Squirrels. BP is a federal LE position with potential for advancement and transfer to different locations in the US. If you want what could be a potentially somewhat exciting career, go BP. If you want to stay where you are, try local PD or conservation.


              • #8
                Don't pick any law enforcement job for the pay or perks. Those can change, and you can't spend the money if you're dead.

                Pick the one you want to do... and while there are BPA's lots of places, 80% are in the middle of nowhere on the southern border.
                "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet


                • #9
                  Fish cops (aka Game Wardens) are far from a coveted position in my state. The guys who fill those jobs are merely folks who are into that kind of very specialized enforcement, just like some people enjoy being watchmakers while others like being gardeners. If it's your thing, go for it. Personally, I'd go for BP.
                  Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere


                  • #10
                    I have applied with the Minnesota DNR to be a Conservation Officer with them. When I went to test with them, I anticipated a lot of L.E. related questions, but there was some standard L.E. questions, a lot of the questions were fish and game questions like the difference between a Northern Pike a and a Muskie, Small mouth bass vs. large mouth bass, what is the minimum size and maximum size of fish can you take, what is the limit allowed. etc.

                    A lot of interest for those who enjoy the outdoors. From what I know, CO's are provided all of the equipment they need from a 4x4 patrol vehicle (I think they F-250's or something similar), ATV's / UTV's, watercraft, and snowmobiles just to name a few. The book "Poachers Caught!: Adventures of a Northwoods Game Warden" gives a pretty good insight on what CO's in Minnesota do...or did before the author retired.
                    Last edited by MN Cop Hopeful; 10-03-2019, 08:36 PM.


                    • #11
                      I work with several IL CPO's and am close personal friends with a handful.

                      In Illinois it is a very difficult job to get. You must have military experience, a bachelor's degree, and be willing to go through a very tough academy. They are considered troopers in Illinois. They first go through the State Police academy and after graduation must then go through their own academy. You are very often completely on your own dealing with people who are armed. Plus you'll be off the beaten path so if you do require backup it's going to be hard for anyone to actually find you.

                      Since it's a state agency you'll be dealing with Illinois politics all the time (BP is the same but on a federal level).

                      Unlike some other states they do a lot of nonwildlife enforcement as well. The guys by me do a ton of traditional traffic and pickup DUI grant shifts all the time.

                      When you're first hired you'll be sent to the Lake/Cook County region as that's the area none of them want to work. After you get some years on you'll get the freedom to choose where you go based on the state's need. That's when you'll make really good money as you'll be paid a state salary while living somewhere with a low cost of living.

                      Those that are successful absolutely love their jobs. They receive good pay, have the freedom to do what they want, when they want, and get to spend most of their time outdoors.

                      I can't speak at all about the BP but I'd happily work as a CPO.


                      • DJ9
                        DJ9 commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Thank you for your insight! Some of the information above was explained to me by my background investigator and it sounds like a dream job. I understand that politics come into play at one point or another and how the role of the traditional CPO has changed in the past years. There just isn’t a bunch of information out there for CPOs in IL aside from asking my investigator, which is all great information. I just enjoy hearing from others and their opinions or experiences.

                    • #12
                      they do a lot of nonwildlife enforcement as well

                      There's been a transition in the last couple decades for conservation agencies- from policing consumptive uses (fishing, hunting, trapping) to policing recreational activity (boating, ATV riding, etc.) Why? Because society is changing.. less people are buying hunting licenses and more people are buying jet skis.

                      As a result, the game warden of old has become an anachronism and today's conservation officer is more Fun Police than Wildlife Officer.

                      Just be aware.... you're more likely to work drunk boaters than poachers these days.

                      If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.

                      -George S. Patton


                      • #13
                        I say proceed with caution. The Patrol ain't a bad gig if you land in a good spot but there are a lot more bad locations than there are good ones. And transfers can take 8 to 17 years so wherever you get sent initially, you will be there a while. As far as benefits go, medical, dental and vision pans are very good and we get to keep them when we retire. We can change plans every year if you want. But we took a big pay cut during the obama years. Democrats across the board hate us and many republicans do as well. President Trump loves us and the Patrol loves him, but the dems/repubs in congress hates us, so nothing ever gets done, in our favor at least. Our budgets often get cut or redirected to other people and places that matter more to the powers that be.

                        The job is mostly solo patrol in remote areas with often little to no comms in many locations along the southern border. You have to feel confident to work alone and outnumbered. I've worked in stations that did a lot alien smuggling and narcotics interdiction and I've worked in other stations that just work bodies in the brush. Everyone we encounter in the desert/mountains where I've worked runs, so you will have to run after them. Lots of knee and shoulder injuries can occur, especially as you age. In parts of southern Texas many people give up so you have to change diapers there but that is changing as our amnesty laws change. The job is completely different in different locations so there is no one size fits all answer. But across the board, the job has a paramilitary culture and morale is poor due to the politics and pay cuts we have had to put up with over the years. Lots of people regularly leave to go to ICE, HSI and DEA.
                        Last edited by SHU; 10-12-2019, 06:03 PM.


                        • #14
                          Wardens in my region are full authority LE officers and are most definitely a coveted position. Having the freedom to make your own schedule, go anywhere you want, enforce any laws you want, patrolling in any type of vehicle you want, unlimited OT, rarely micro managed, conduct your own investigations and write your own search warrants, etc... Not to mention having good pay and good benefits. Reasons why I love my job.

                          My work weeks are so diverse but equally exciting. I could be spending my work week camping in the woods with co-workers and roaming around on ATV's/horseback, I could be doing helicopter patrols, boat/raft patrols on lakes and rivers, 4x4ing in my lifted patrol truck, snowmachine patrols during winter, writing my own search warrants and operational plans, etc...

                          Or I could be running traffic in the county or city, running city/county calls with the local guys, assisting other agencies with their investigations and so much more. The freedom is endless and so is the learning. Its nice not having to respond to barking dog calls but can respond to hot calls like DV's, active shooters, pursuits, etc. You get to choose how busy you want to be. Just like Hannah Montana said, you get the best of both worlds

                          Being a "Game Warden" is much more than just checking fishing/hunting licenses. Knowing wildlife law opens up much more ways to develop probable cause. Especially for that doper who is pushing drugs to kids but you dont have enough to do a search warrant on their house for drugs, but you have enough to do a search warrant on their house for wildlife crimes. Execute the search warrant, find the drugs, write an addendum to the search warrant, make your arrests and save kids by taking dope off the streets while simultaneously bringing justice to the slayers of Nemo and Bambi
                          Last edited by smclovin; 11-03-2019, 12:06 AM.


                          • DJ9
                            DJ9 commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Thank you very much for your response! They are definitely a coveted LEO in this state and have full policing authority. I have heard about the freedoms and the flexibility for scheduling your own hours as opposed to city and county pd’s. I haven’t heard about many helicopter patrols, but I’m sure it’s as awesome as it sounds! Once again, thank you for the information!

                          • smclovin
                            smclovin commented
                            Editing a comment
                            No problem! BPA is also a good exciting gig at times and has great benefits. Its all about what type of LE job best suits your personality and most importantly, the needs of you and your family.

                        • #15
                          Especially for that doper who is pushing drugs to kids but you dont have enough to do a search warrant on their house for drugs, but you have enough to do a search warrant on their house for wildlife crimes
                          At my old SO we always trued to have a wildlife officer around for drug warrants. Colorado has seriously nerfed a lot of drug crimes but the environmental crimes for cooking meth, making hash oil and growing pot... and the residue chemicals they generate... are sometimes astronomical.
                          "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                          "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet


                          • smclovin
                            smclovin commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Exactly! Same results, different route for PC. These labs/grows really do a lot of damage.

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