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MDIFW stays ahead of staff shortage as new Husson program aims to train game wardens

"One of our big pushes in our agency has been to recruit and hire qualified applicants for the last couple years," Aaron Cross, an MDIFW lieutenant, said.

MAINE, USA — We've heard about a shortage in just about every industry from restaurants to law enforcement. But one department that doesn't seem to be facing that challenge is the Maine Dept. of Inland, Fisheries, and Wildlife (MDIFW).

Aaron Cross, an MDIFW game warden lieutenant, said they've managed to hire 18 game wardens in the last year-and-a-half.

"One of our big pushes in our agency has been to recruit and hire qualified applicants for the last couple years," Cross said. 

Cross says the department has been able to get ahead of foreseen staffing challenges by keeping up with competitive pay and benefits, leaving enrollment open on their website, and upping recruitment efforts.

"We have a lot of game wardens that are either eligible or [are] gonna be eligible to retire in the next several years," Cross said.

Part of the struggle with recruitment in this field of law enforcement is finding applicants who are qualified. Husson University noticed this need, and is now launching it's own conservation law bachelor's degree program this fall. 

The degree program will prepare students to become game wardens, park rangers, forest rangers, and marine patrol officers. 

John Michaud, legal studies director at Husson, said he spoke with local game wardens and park rangers about it. 

"They let us know that, you know, we're getting to the cutting point now. We've got to have qualified people," Michaud said.

Michaud said Husson is now one of only a few schools in New England offering a hands-on conservation law bachelor's degree program.

Cross said it takes an entire year to fully train game wardens, so finding people with experience is important.

"The candidates that we look for in our hiring process are folks that have a background of some sort in the outdoors ... fish, wildlife, outdoor recreation," Cross explained.

Students who graduate from the program will receive a bachelor's degree and become fully-certified law enforcement officers. 

"It really was just bringing in six or seven or eight new classes into our criminal justice program, and then we had that program," Michaud said.

If you're interested in applying for one of the openings with the MDIFW, click here

If you're interested in learning more about Husson University's conservation law program, click here

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