Sgt. Mike Barr, who has served as the supervisory officer for the Northwest Georgia region for a number of years, has been temporarily re-assigned to help lead the recruitment effort to help bring the DNR manpower closer to desired levels. Barr said that 43 counties across Georgia do not have a law enforcement ranger assigned to them at this time. Walker and Dade counties in Northwest Georgia share one ranger as do Chattooga and Catoosa counties. Floyd County has one ranger assigned to it, Ben Cunningham, however three cadets are currently in training at the Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area northwest of Rome.
Barr said that one of the issues the law enforcement division faces is retirement-related attrition.
"We expect we'll probably have another eight to 10 retire within the next year," Barr said. "Our goal is to get one game warden per county."
Barr said that qualified applicants must have an obvious interest in being outdoors.
"We're the guys with the special equipment, the boats, all-terrain vehicles, aviation unit that goes in to natural disasters,” Barr said. One of the latest requirements is a two-year degree, however Barr said the specific coursework could be in just about any field of study. "Obviously, we do give special notice to people that have interest or a degree in criminal justice, wildlife biology, forestry or those subjects related to the outdoors," Barr said. "We do so much with law enforcement not only on private property but state lands, to some degree federal lands, state parks and all of the major lakes around the state."
The starting pay for DNR law enforcement rangers is right at $41,000. Motivated officers can get into the $60,000 range once they reach the rank of corporal and a section supervisor can earn in the mid $70s.
Barr said anyone interested in becoming a game warden should contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.