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Wildlife Biology

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Wildlife Biology

Wildlife Biology as a career has been around for generations, protecting endangered species and conserving the environment for future generations of hunters and biologists. There is a need for wildlife biologists, though the growth rate is poor in the field. A foundation `1on science is necessary in order to pursue a career, but it is recommended to get a Bachelor or Master’s degree. You need a passion and will for adventure to be a part of this career, but it is rewarding for all the hard work. Thanks to the efforts of generations of former wildlife biologists, we can enjoy animal species today, whether it be hunting, raising, or studying. [a]

Ever since man has hunted animals, studying animals went hand-in-hand. Beginning in Western Europe, land owners controlled the rights to hunt and own animals, wild and domesticated; not unlike a federal program with limitations and licenses for game hunting. In America there were no limitations, because of this, animals started to go extinct. Once the passenger pigeon and the American bison were hunted into extinction, people stopped hunting and started studying the wildlife. In 1936 President Roosevelt called a meeting to discuss limiting hunting, and because of the meeting the National Wildlife Federation was formed. It is said that President Roosevelt “he endowed the United States with 230 million acres of protected landscapes for the conservation of wildlife—approximately 84,000 acres for every day he was in office” (“Our History and Heritage”). This Federation has spread good across America. The organization “was formed with the idea of uniting sportsmen and all outdoor and wildlife enthusiasts behind the common goal of conservation” (“Our History and Heritage”). So, all those wishing to hold a career in this field should hold this idea true.

Wildlife biology careers require education on top of a love for the outdoors and animals. Science is a key subject when it comes to this career. A solid background in science throughout grade school should increase the chances of acceptance into a college that offers wildlife biology as a major. It is also imperative that you do your research when choosing a college. It would not be worth your time if the University does not offer the required classes that you need for this career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the wildlife biology major as “a program that focuses on the application of biological principles to the study of vertebrate wildlife, wildlife habitats, and related ecosystems in remote and urban areas” ("Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists"). The benefits of this program include the learning and in depth study in animal ecology, adaptation biology, urban ecosystems, natural and artificial habitat management, limnology, and wildlife pathology. It also includes vertebrate zoological specializations such as mammalogy, herpetology, ichthyology, ornithology, and many others. ("Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists"). There are multiple careers related to wildlife biology but the foundation is consistently rooted in science. The best way to be set apart is to specialize in a specific area. This is the best way to ensure the right fit in a career. Whether interested in large animals, fish, small animals, primates, etc., there is a field to fit. These fields include zoology, marine biology, ichthyology, and more-all a specialty of the broad wildlife biology path. While pursing higher education at a university or college for wildlife biology, classes that are beneficial would include communication classes, technology classes, and classes that would enhance critical thinking and problem solving skills. The foundation these classes and skills will provide are considered necessary for this career. It is explained in College Board “Students in this major investigate the biology of animals with backbones as well as their habitats and related ecosystems in areas ranging from the wild to the urban” ("Wildlife Biology"). The National Center of Education Statistics explains that zoologists and wildlife biologists would have to write scientific papers and educate the public, policymakers, and academics. They need judgement and sound reasoning to come to conclusions from scientific experiment and observation. Teamwork is essential in order to work effectively with others to achieve their goals or to negotiate conflicting goals. It is crucial in these careers to  try to find the best possible solutions to threats that affect wildlife, such as disease and habitat loss. This may include manual labor such as chopping firewood, swimming in cold water, navigating rough terrain in poor weather, or performing other activities associated with life in remote areas ("Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists").[b] After completing undergraduate school, a wildlife biologist can immediately begin looking for a job. Some students decide to head to graduate school to pursue a Master’s degree in the field of wildlife biology. Bachelor’s degrees make up 47.65% of the active workforce while graduate students account for 49.32% ("Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists"). A Master’s degree is not required but could be beneficial in making a larger salary or finding a job quicker or easier.

        The work environment of a wildlife biologist can be as diverse as the majors in school. From laboratories, to offices, national parks, or even zoos, it can be expected that the major earned by someone in this field will decide where they work. Zoologists, a common major of a wildlife biologist, can be found in zoos regularly. They are more commonly known as zookeepers. Being a zookeeper you will be exposed to many kinds of animals without leaving the comfort of a city. A major in Ichthyology could be found working in the public sector for the government or governmental agencies, like the NFWF, protecting public waterways from pollution, overfishing, and invasive species ("Protecting Species"). The advantage of this job would be the stability of more of a desk job, or the benefits of working for the government. If a student would rather work away from the elements a career in environmental science could be a viable pursuit. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook the “Environmental scientists and specialists work in offices and laboratories. Some may spend time in the field gathering data and monitoring environmental conditions firsthand. Most… work full time” ("What Environmental Scientists and Specialists Do" 2015). Private companies are also an option for wildlife biology majors. With the same career and environment options, the private sector is a great option for those uninterested in working for the government. This is also a potential for starting your own business. That obviously requires knowledge outside of what you would have studied in school, but the potential is always there. Offices are a rare, but possible environment for wildlife biologists. If you were seeking an office setting than the government side of the profession would be preferred. If that is not something you are interested in then advising policy or lobbying for legislation would be the job for someone who would rather sit in an office doing research and making phone calls.



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