Conservation Officer careers

Become a Minnesota DNR Conservation Officer

Conservation officers (COs) are responsible for enforcing laws and regulations under the jurisdiction of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. As a licensed peace officer, conservation officers enforce laws related to fish and wildlife, state parks, trails, forests, waters and wetlands. They also perform public relations and education duties throughout the state. 

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Conservation Officer Work

DNR conservation officer positions exist to provide public safety, resource and recreation protection response to DNR field operations, including fish, wildlife, recreation, commercial, water and wetlands, environmental crime, state parks and trails, according to applicable statutes, regulations and policies.

Conservation officer work involves:

Law enforcement: COs enforce all authorized statutes and regulations; enforce all authorized recreational, environmental and emerging issues statutes and regulations; identify needs, develop methods and implement plans to detect violations; investigate complaints; process criminal violations and arrest violators; seize and preserve evidence; and conduct audits of natural-resource licensed commercial operations.

Safety and adult training: COs support hunter and recreational vehicle safety training courses, recruiting and maintaining a volunteer instructor pool, providing required training aids and assuring classes are scheduled.

Public relations: COs communicate DNR goals to the public by personal contact or actively seeking media and speaking opportunities, and provide assistance with injured or nuisance animals.

Cooperative relationships: COs maintain working relationships with other DNR units and all law enforcement and other related agencies.

Administration and reporting: COs work out of their homes and prepare and submit reports on their work.

Hiring and Training Process

The hiring and training process has several steps, including a written examination, division interview, background investigation, pre-work screening (functional capacity exam), psychological assessment and medical evaluation. Successful candidates are hired and placed in academic and field training during which time they are trained on the specific job tasks of a conservation officer for a period of approximately six months. Hiring periods generally open during the first part of the calendar year.


A conservation officer must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Have skill in performing peace officer duties
  • Have good reading comprehension, oral and written communications skills
  • Be knowledgeable about fish and wildlife identification, habitat and other related environmental sciences
  • Have ability to perform the job in adverse weather and other environmental conditions; observe and record information; read, analyze, interpret and communicate information; detect and analyze information based on sight, smell and/or taste, etc.
  • Not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals in the performance of job duties and responsibilities
  • Have no felony conviction in Minnesota or a crime in any other state or federal jurisdiction that would have been a felony if committed in Minnesota
  • Have no other criminal convictions involving serious natural resource violations, crimes involving moral turpitude, or two or more alcohol-related driving violations for the past ten years
  • Have no DWI, reckless or careless driving, or other serious driving violations within the last five years
  • Possess a valid Minnesota peace officer's license; be eligible to be licensed by the Minnesota Peace Officers Standards and Training Board (POST); or complete basic police training and be certified as a full-time peace officer in a state or federal law enforcement agency with which Minnesota has reciprocity and pass the POST Board reciprocity exam.

Note: Questions concerning peace officer license requirements should be directed to the State of Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) at 651-643-3060 or visit the POST website . For a list of educational institutions in Minnesota where you can pursue a Peace Officer Certificate see the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities Web site .

All other inquiries should be directed to CO Aaron Kahre.


The current salary range is $27.22 to $35.78 hourly/$56,835 to $74,709 annually. Conservation officers are also eligible for seasonal overtime earnings.

Benefits include life, health, dental, and workers' compensation insurance; optional deferred compensation saving plan; and a retirement plan. There are also paid holidays, vacation days, and sick leave.

Additionally, conservation officers are provided take-home patrol vehicles, ATV, snowmobile, watercraft; reimbursed for monthly phone service and business related meals; issued laptop computers, internet service, body armor, firearms, and other safety equipment.