Career Development

What Does a Wildlife Manager Do?

Find out what a Wildlife Manager does, how to get this job, salary information, and what it takes to succeed as a Wildlife Manager.

The Wildlife Manager plays an essential role in maintaining the balance between wildlife conservation and habitat management. This position involves overseeing the health and well-being of various wildlife species, ensuring their habitats are preserved, restored, and managed effectively. Through a combination of fieldwork and administrative duties, the Wildlife Manager works to implement strategies that support biodiversity, monitor ecosystem health, and facilitate research efforts. Engaging with the public, policymakers, and other stakeholders is also a significant aspect of the job, aiming to promote awareness and understanding of wildlife conservation issues. This role requires a deep appreciation for nature, a strong foundation in ecological principles, and the ability to navigate the complexities of environmental management.

Wildlife Manager Job Duties

  • Develop and implement management plans for wildlife populations and their habitats, ensuring sustainable ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Monitor wildlife health and populations, using tracking, surveying, and data analysis techniques to assess the status of species and effectiveness of management strategies.
  • Design and oversee habitat restoration projects, including reforestation, wetlands creation, and invasive species control, to support wildlife conservation efforts.
  • Coordinate with local, state, and federal agencies, as well as private landowners and conservation organizations, to align wildlife management practices and policies.
  • Investigate and address human-wildlife conflicts, devising solutions that minimize negative impacts on both wildlife and human communities.
  • Manage budgets and secure funding for wildlife management projects through grants, partnerships, and fundraising efforts.
  • Lead educational outreach programs, providing information and training to the public, schools, and other stakeholders on wildlife conservation and coexistence strategies.
  • Oversee the collection and analysis of genetic material from wildlife populations for research and conservation purposes, contributing to scientific understanding and policy development.

Wildlife Manager Salary & Outlook

Factors influencing a Wildlife Manager’s salary include years of experience, level of education (specifically degrees in wildlife management, biology, or related fields), the size and funding of the employing organization (government agencies vs. private entities), and the complexity of projects managed (species conservation, habitat restoration, public education programs).

  • Median Annual Salary: $57,750 ($27.76/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $121,000 ($58.17/hour)

The employment of wildlife managers is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

This growth is driven by increasing public interest in wildlife conservation, expanding protected areas, and the need for professional management of wildlife populations amidst climate change and habitat loss, requiring skilled Wildlife Managers to balance ecological health with human interests and activities.

Wildlife Manager Job Requirements

Education: A Wildlife Manager typically holds a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in wildlife science, biology, ecology, or a related field. Advanced positions may require a Doctoral Degree. Relevant coursework includes wildlife management, conservation biology, ecological principles, and environmental policy. Specializing in areas like habitat restoration, population dynamics, or environmental law enhances a candidate’s expertise. Degrees emphasizing field research, data analysis, and GIS technology are advantageous, preparing individuals for the multifaceted challenges of managing wildlife populations and their habitats.

Experience: Wildlife Managers typically possess a blend of hands-on experience and formal on-the-job training. Their expertise often spans various aspects of wildlife conservation, habitat management, and ecological studies. Many have progressed through training programs that emphasize practical skills in tracking, population management, and the use of technology in conservation efforts. Experience in field research, wildlife monitoring, and management projects is common, reflecting a career path that combines direct engagement with wildlife and ecosystems with structured learning opportunities to hone their skills.

Certifications & Licenses: Wildlife managers often require state-specific wildlife management or conservation licenses. Certifications such as the Certified Wildlife Biologist from The Wildlife Society are beneficial. Some roles may necessitate a pesticide applicator license for habitat management tasks. No universal certifications or licenses apply across all regions or positions.

Wildlife Manager Skills

Habitat Restoration: Strategies such as controlled burns and the removal of invasive species are employed by wildlife managers to maintain the health and resilience of essential habitats. Knowledge of native species, ecological processes, and human impacts is crucial for the revival and upkeep of diverse ecosystems critical for wildlife conservation.

Wildlife Population Management: Regulating animal numbers to balance ecosystems involves understanding species-specific behaviors, reproductive rates, and habitat requirements. Through field surveys, statistical models, and conservation collaborations, wildlife managers work to ensure sustainable populations and biodiversity.

Conservation Laws: Keeping up-to-date with local, national, and international regulations that protect animal species and their habitats is a responsibility of wildlife managers. They ensure conservation efforts comply with legal standards and advocate for policies that support sustainable wildlife management and biodiversity conservation.

Ecological Surveys: Investigations into habitats and species allow for the development of effective conservation strategies. A meticulous approach to data collection and analysis is required, making decisions informed by accurate ecological information.

Wildlife Disease Management: Knowledge of epidemiology and the implementation of health monitoring and intervention strategies are necessary for managing diseases in wildlife populations. Coordination with veterinarians, researchers, and conservationists helps mitigate disease spread, protecting ecosystems and both animal and human communities.

Conflict Resolution: Mediating disputes between local communities and conservation efforts involves a blend of empathy, ecological understanding, and legal knowledge. Solutions that consider human interests while preserving natural habitats and species are developed and implemented by wildlife managers.

Wildlife Manager Work Environment

Wildlife Managers often find themselves in a dynamic work environment, primarily outdoors, navigating through various terrains and weather conditions. Their workspace extends beyond traditional offices to forests, parks, and protected areas, requiring adaptability to the natural elements. The tools of their trade range from GPS devices and binoculars to more advanced wildlife tracking technology, emphasizing the importance of being tech-savvy.

Work hours can be irregular, with early mornings, late evenings, and weekend work common, reflecting the unpredictable nature of wildlife activities. Dress code is practical, focusing on safety and comfort, with protective gear against weather and terrain. The culture within this field is deeply rooted in conservation and teamwork, with a shared commitment to preserving natural habitats.

Health and safety are paramount, given the potential risks from wildlife encounters and challenging environments. Travel is frequent, to monitor different sites or attend conferences, underscoring the need for flexibility. Despite the demands, the role offers a unique blend of solitude and collaboration, connecting with nature while working closely with fellow conservationists and researchers.

Advancement Prospects

Wildlife Managers can advance their careers by transitioning into senior management roles, such as Wildlife Area Supervisor or Regional Wildlife Director, where they oversee larger territories and more complex conservation projects. Achieving these positions typically requires years of experience, a strong track record in wildlife conservation, and expertise in habitat management.

Another path involves specializing in research or policy development, contributing to the scientific understanding of wildlife populations or shaping wildlife management laws and guidelines. This specialization often necessitates a master’s degree or Ph.D. in wildlife biology or a related field, coupled with published research in reputable scientific journals.

Additionally, Wildlife Managers may pursue roles in environmental education, focusing on community outreach and education programs. This path is ideal for those passionate about raising public awareness and fostering a culture of conservation. Success in this area is marked by the ability to engage diverse audiences and inspire collective action towards wildlife preservation.


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