|dc.description.abstract||This study, based upon data obtained from a more encompassing research endeavor (Virginia Game Warden Project, Hatch Act, Project Number 616236), identifies and explores the nature of various occupational roles of selected Virginia Game Wardens. Only those wardens holding the rank of Area Patrol Leader or Regular Warden are included in the analysis (N=67). The methodology utilizes a variety of research techniques to obtain data from wardens (selected by enumerative and random sampling procedures) which include: (1) in-depth interviewing based on a structured interview schedule, (2) a self-administered questionnaire, (3) tape recording formal and informal conversations, and (4) direct observation of the activities of particular wardens.
The roles which wardens perform are found to include: (1) wildlife law enforcement, (2) conservation activities, (3) education and public relations, and (4) a host of "other" related behaviors, including investigation of hunting and boating accidents and search and rescue work. The "master role" of wardens is found to be one of law enforcement, in that most wardens consider this to be the main aspect of their job, spend more work time engaging in such efforts, and indicate a preference for law enforcement activities over the others they perform.
The law enforcement behavior of wardens involves an array of techniques employed to apprehend wildlife law violators. Primary among these are observation, patrol, the use of informers, and a variety of techniques the wardens identify as "sneaky". The wardens surveyed pride themselves on their ability to apprehend wildlife law violators at the most unexpected times and in the most remote geographical regions of the Commonwealth. The wardens' attitudes toward violators are, however, basically lenient. Only specific offenses, including spotlighting, intentional violations, and market poaching, prompt the wardens to attach the "criminal" label to offenders.
A serendipitous finding of the study demonstrates that wardens experience a high degree of job satisfaction. Over three-quarters of the wardens surveyed would choose the same occupation again. In addition, on an eighteen item Index of Job Satisfaction, with a range of possible scores from eighteen to ninety (the higher the score the higher the satisfaction) the average total score for the sample was sixty-nine point six (69.6). It is hypothesized that this high level of job satisfaction is associated with a lack of constant supervision and coercion, a variety in work tasks, perceived meaningful work, and lack of isolation in work performance. Descriptive statistical and observational data are presented to strengthen this claim.
The wildlife law enforcement behavior of wardens is compared to police roles previously explicated by other writers. While such models hold some utility for such comparative efforts, the isomorphic fit is far from exact. The development of other, more occupationally specific, typologies is suggested.||en