Conservation Law Enforcement
Mission Statement

It is the mission of the Law Enforcement Bureau to protect the State's natural resources, to provide public safety and to educate and serve the public. We enhance, promote, and protect the natural resources of this state through public relations, education, and law enforcement, thus ensuring for future generations the rights, privileges and benefits we now enjoy.

Conservation Law Enforcement

Natural resources law enforcement is one responsibility of the Iowa DNR, which is the state government agency that protects and enhances Iowa's natural resources.  The department also oversees fisheries, wildlife, parks, forestry, and environmental protection.

The Law Enforcement Bureau has 90 conservation officers including six supervisors, six recreational safety officers, and 78 field officers.  All are fully certified state peace officers with the authority to enforce all Iowa laws.  As U.S. federal deputy game wardens, they also may cross state lines when violations of federal wildlife laws have been committed.

What Do Conservation Officers Do?
The primary responsibilities of officers are to:
  • Enforce laws related to hunting, trapping, fishing, navigation, commercial fishing, snowmobiling, and all-terrain vehicles.
  • Investigate incidents involving outdoor recreation.
  • Inspect game breeders, taxidermists, bait dealers, and other commercial users.
  • Educate adults and children through hunter education, outdoor skills workshops, and other courses.
  • Communicate with schools and community groups through public programs, and with the media through TV, newspaper, and radio shows.

Job Requirements

Field officers typically cover one or two county territories.  Recreational safety officers cover up to 19 counties and perform similar duties as field officer while coordinating safety education program and assist with investigations.  Bureau supervisors oversee officer activities in regional offices across the state.

Officers' work schedules vary with the seasons and activities.  They work most weekends, particularly in hunting seasons and summer holidays, and have two days off per week.  Officers are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week by radio and telephone.  Most maintain offices in their homes and in their assigned work vehicles.

Equipment is an important part of a conservation officer's job.  The DNR equips officers to perform their diverse duties with uniforms, firearms, and seasonal apparel including waders, snowmobile suits, and flotation devices.

Each officer is issued a patrol vehicle equipped with lights, siren, cell phone, computer, and radio.  Other transportation tools include boats, snowmobiles, and all terrain vehicles.

After completing initial basic training at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, newly hired officers must complete the Probationary Conservation Officer Academy and Field Training Program.  Officers then hone their skills through ongoing training in defensive tactics, firearms, communication skills, ice and swift water rescue, and law enforcement driving, to name a few topics.  Many officers act as instructors for the bureau and other law enforcement agencies.

What It takes to Be an Officer
Conservation officers are usually highly motivated, independent workers.  They tend to be career employees; turnover can be relatively low and hiring is competitive.  However, for those who have a strong desire to work in natural resources and with the people who enjoy them, it can be a rewarding career.

Applications for full-time positions are selected through an extensive interview and testing process that includes a physical agility test, cognitive test, and psychological exam.  They must meet all the requirements to be a state peace officer.

Candidates should have excellent communication skills, be flexible and adaptable, and act in a fair and ethical manner.  Individuals selected as conservation officers usually have four-year degrees in fish and wildlife management, biology, criminal justice, or similar fields.  Most also participate in outdoor recreation and have prior experience in natural resource fields.

Law Enforcement Bureau Mission Statement
It is the mission of the Law Enforcement Bureau to protect the State's natural resources, to provide public safety and to educate and serve the public. We enhance, promote, and protect the natural resources of this state through public relations, education, and law enforcement, thus ensuring for future generations the rights, privileges and benefits we now enjoy.

Each summer, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources hires individuals to serve as Seasonal Water Patrol (WP) and ATV Patrol (ATVP).  They patrol Iowa's waterways and shores, and ATV parks and riding areas, respectively, ensuring the safety of recreationists and the protection of resources.


Seasonal Patrol are temporary, summer employees of the Iowa DNR. These are positions of high responsibility. Diverse duties for Water Patrol include checking for compliance with Iowa's navigation and fishing regulations and helping to ensure a safe recreational environment for the public. This is where Water Patrol spend the majority of their time. ATV Patrol duties include patrolling Iowa’s Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) parks and riding areas by ATV, motor vehicle and foot; checking for compliance with Iowa's ATV regulations; and helping to ensure a safe recreational environment for the public. This is where ATV Patrol spend the majority of their time.

Both Water and ATV Patrol also provide public assistance and safety education through personal contacts and by sometimes participating in DNR's educational programs.

Often, Seasonal Patrol are the first to respond to the scene of emergency situations such as accidents, missing persons or other calls for assistance. After assessing the situation and alerting officers and/or other agencies, they continue to assist investigating officers and rescue personnel.

When not patrolling, Seasonal Patrol must maintain their issued patrol vehicles and/or vessels, safety equipment and gear, and storage facilities in accordance with directives.

A final component of the job is the completion of required administrative duties, such as activity reports, case information narratives, timesheets, citations, and vehicle/vessel usage records. This type of activity is usually done at the patrol station; in some areas such as northwest Iowa's West Lake Okoboji, that station may be on the water's edge; in others it may be where equipment is stored.

Work Schedule and Pay:

Seasonal Patrol work a 40-hour work week, with two days off per week during the week. The exact schedule varies by location and is assigned by the supervisor, but entails working weekends (including all the holiday weekends of Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day and in all types of weather. Pay for Summer 2017 will be $12.00 per hour.

Seasonal Patrol are issued the necessary equipment to perform their duties. Boats and machines vary in size and type, depending on the duty station. They are issued all the required safety equipment for their boats and vehicles, binoculars, warning and citation books, and a radio and cell phone for communicating with DNR officers, other law enforcement agencies and the recreating public.

Before beginning patrol duties at their assigned areas, Seasonal Patrol attend formal training, usually held at Camp Dodge near Des Moines. While attending this training, lodging and meals are provided by the DNR. This training is provided by the Conservation Officer Instructor/Trainers within the DNR and by personnel from other state and local law enforcement agencies.

This training includes an intense introduction to defensive tactics, approach skills and tactics, professional communications, administrative responsibilities, and understanding, interpreting and enforcing the Code of Iowa, especially in relation to navigation, fishing, ATVs, and parks.

Minimum Requirements ( Water Patrol Information Sheet):
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Valid Motor Vehicle Operator’s License required.
  • Submission to and clearance of a thorough background check.
  • Graduated from or currently enrolled/on break between semesters of college, or about to enter first semester of college from high school.
  • Ability to work alone, with the public, in a law enforcement capacity, in all conditions, on weekends, and including holidays, nights, and evenings.
The following are POTENTIAL positions that MAY be available. Only indicate on your application those that you are willing and able to work; i.e. only those areas that you would accept employment if offered. Some locations have minimal housing available included at no cost as a condition of working those stations.  Those locations are not yet determined.  Applicants can indicate if housing is preferred or needed.

Water Patrol:
STORM LAKE (in Buena Vista County) (NW IOWA)
NORTH TWIN LAKE (in Calhoun County) (NW IOWA)
MANCHESTER AREA (in Delaware County) (NE IOWA)
CLEAR LAKE @ (in Cerro Gordo County) (NC IOWA)
MISSOURI RIVER/LAKE MANAWA (in Pottawattamie County) (SW IOWA)
MISSOURI RIVER/CARTER LAKE (in Pottawattamie County) (SW IOWA)
MISSISSIPPI RIVER @ MONTROSE (in Des Moines and Lee Counties) (SE IOWA)
MISSISSIPPI RIVER @ FAIRPORT (Muscatine and Louisa Counties) (SE IOWA)
LAKE RATHBUN (in Appanoose County) (SC IOWA)
LAKE REDROCK (in Marion County) (SC IOWA)


The application period is currently open for Water Patrol Officers.
Application for Temporary, Summer 2017 Employment: Water Patrol Officer

ATV Patrol:
Lakeview OHV Park - Ely (in Johnson County) (SE IOWA)

Gypsum City and Nicholson-Ford OHV Parks - (in Webster and Marshall Counties) (NC IOWA)
Rathbun and Bluff Creek OHV Parks (in Appanoose and Mahaska Counties) (SC IOWA)
River Valley OHV Park - Council Bluffs (in Pottawattamie County) (SW IOWA)
Riverview and Tama County OHV Parks (in Black Hawk and Tama Counties) (NE IOWA)

The application period is currently closed for ATV Patrol Officers.

The purpose of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact is to assure that in participating states, non-resident violators will receive the same treatment as resident violators. The IWVC member states reciprocate regarding the suspension or revocation of licenses and permits resulting from violation of hunting, fishing, or trapping laws. If an individual's license or permit privileges are revoked in one compact member state, they are subject to suspension or revocation in all other member states. For example, if an Iowa resident has their hunting privileges suspended in Minnesota, their privileges may also be suspended in Iowa and in all other compact states. This helps prevent habitual violators from relocating their illegal activities to other member's states.

The IWVC also has established procedures that cause a non-resident violator who fails to comply with the terms of a citation issued in a participating state to face the possibility of the suspension of his wildlife license privileges in their home state until the terms of the citation are met.

The goal of the IWVC is to facilitate improved enforcement of hunting, fishing, and trapping laws through the cooperation of law enforcement units in member states.

The topic of an interstate violator compact was first broached in the 1980s. Law enforcement agencies were looking for a way to deal with individuals who violated wildlife and resource laws outside their home state or in multiple states. Their work came to fruition in 1989 when the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact was passed into law in Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon. Iowa became an active member of the compact in 2003.

Currently, there are 35 states in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. They include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact - Membership Map

Member States:  Yes (35)  No (15)

Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact - Membership List

For More Information
Aron Arthur
Law Enforcement Bureau
502 East 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319-0034
Phone: 515-725-8478

Or visit TIP of Iowa Website

TIP Hotline is 800-532-2020The Iowa program, which we call TIP for Turn-In-Poachers, was started in August 1985. The private TIP organization was established by concerned sportsmen and women under the guidance of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Bureau. Both groups recognized the need for an added dimension to fish and game law enforcement in the State of Iowa to aid in the fight against poaching.

Submit a TIP: Call 1-800-532-2020 or submit your TIP online

TIP is an organized non-profit corporation with dedicated sportsmen and women from all over Iowa who serve as board members. Each board member represents a conservation organization from around the state, such as; Iowa Bowhunters Assoc., Izaak Walton chapters, Pheasants Forever chapters, Iowa Wildlife Federation, and others.

The responsibility for the TIP program is shared by TIP and the Department of Natural Resources. The department receives and records reports of fish or game violations through a toll-free telephone number (1-800/532-2020), routes the confidential information to DNR officers for investigation, and arranges reward payments to informants through the TIP board. In order for a TIP report/case to be eligible for a cash reward the investigating officer must have written at least one citation. A conviction is not necessary.

The TIP board establishes operating policies and also solicits private funds to support the program. All rewards paid to informants on successful TIP cases are private monies which the TIP board has collected through membership fees, private donations and sale of promotional items such as T-shirts and caps.

The department provides an employee to serve as TIP coordinator and the TIP "Hotline" (1-800/532-2020) telephone number. The toll-free TIP number is monitored 24-hours a day for citizens to report information about crimes against fish or wildlife day or night. The department encourages citizens to use the toll-free line when reporting poaching information, however, they also emphasize that this is not a general information number.

TIP has set reward amounts, which are;
$150 - small game, fish, birds and furbearing animals;
$200 - wild turkey and raptors;
$300 - deer, elk and moose;
$1,000 - threatened or endangered species or commercial poaching operations.
Some reward amounts may vary depending upon the details of the case.

Remember, poachers are thieves who are stealing our fish and wildlife resources. You, as a concerned citizen, can take an active role in helping our department put these fish and wildlife thieves out of business. If you witness or even hear of poaching activity call the TIP HOTLINE (1-800/532-2020) and report it immediately. The sooner you call the better our chances are of catching the violators.

Turn-In-Poachers Annual Activity Report
Contact Information

State Map with Contacts

District One
Iowa DNR, NW Regional Office
Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery
122 - 252nd Avenue
Spirit Lake, IA 51360
Office number: (712) 336-1840

District Two
Iowa DNR, NC Regional Office
1203 N. Shore Drive
Clear Lake, IA 50428
Office number: (641) 357-3517

Iowa DNR, NE Regional Office
Manchester Fish Hatchery
22693 - 205th Avenue
Manchester, IA 52057
Office number: (563) 927-3276

District Three
Iowa DNR, SW Regional Office
Cold Springs State Park
57744 Lewis Road
Lewis, IA 51544
Office number: (712) 769-2587

District Four
Iowa DNR, SE Regional Office
Lake Darling State Park
110 Lake Darling Road
Brighton, IA 52540
Office number: (319) 694-2430

Central Office
Iowa DNR, SC Regional Office
Wallace State Office Building
502 East 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
Office number: 515-725-8200