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The pronghorn, a small antelope-like animal native to North America, has a definitive migration path that has been in place for thousands of years. Unfortunately, that path has been disrupted by roads built right across it. For lucky pronghorn in Wyoming, conservationists took matters into their own hands and worked to create pronghorn "crossings," or overpasses designed to guide the animals across the highway in a safe manner, rather than putting them in the path of rushing traffic.
But why stop there? There are also underpasses that allow animals to go under the highway to get to their destination. These are routinely used by bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes and more.
Now the idea has caught on in other states, such as Colorado, where highway fences are in place and overpasses are proposed to cut down on animal and vehicle collisions. These innovative solutions are excellent examples of wildlife management at work.
What is wildlife management?
Wildlife management is a scientific discipline that seeks to research, protect and address problems with wildlife populations all over the world. From figuring out how to avoid car versus animal collisions, to exploring the habitat requirements of endangered species, to keeping forests and streams clear of contamination in order for animals to thrive, wildlife management work can encompass a wide range of responsibilities.
Wildlife management careers often take professionals into the field, where they study and analyze wildlife populations and habitats. Research papers, presentations and scholarly articles are another component of the job. Whether a wildlife management experts studies animals from afar or works with them one-on-one on a daily basis, the aim is to aid and support all of nature's creatures.
Earning a wildlife management degree
Many colleges and universities offer a wildlife management major. However, those that don't usually offer degrees in natural sciences, such as environmental sciences, biology or zoology. An associate or bachelor's degree in natural sciences can open the door to working in wildlife management, or can be a stepping stone to earning a master's degree or Ph.D. in the field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bachelor's degree is usually required for entry-level work. Degrees in the natural sciences and wildlife management can be found both at traditional colleges and online schools.
Many organizations offer certifications in wildlife management. For instance, The Wildlife Society offers a professional development certificate, as well as the Associate Wildlife Biologist and Certified Wildlife Biologist designations. Certification is often seen as a mark of quality education and experience, and that can offer a career boost.
Wildlife management careers
With a degree in wildlife management or natural science under your belt, there are numerous career paths that can allow you to explore, study and protect the outdoors. Wildlife biologists, zoologists, game wardens, environmental science teachers, conservation scientists, foresters, and even veterinarians are all potential career paths for those with a love of wildlife.
Work for wildlife management graduates can be found in conservation groups, private ecological consulting firms, wildlife rehabilitation centers, zoos, wildlife rescue organizations, timber companies, and state or federal agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Park Service.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a national mean annual wage of $62,500 for wildlife biologists and zoologists in May 2012 (bls.gov/oes, 2013). Federal and state governments had the highest levels of employment, and the highest concentration of employment was found in western states, including Wyoming, Oregon, Montana and Idaho. The state that took the top spot for wildlife biologist employment? Alaska.
"Building a Better Crosswalk -- for Moose, Bear and Elk," Laura Peterson, NY Times, January 20, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/01/20/20greenwire-building-a-better-crosswalk-for-moose-bear-and-19956.html?pagewanted=all
"Safe Passage for Pronghorns," Rachel Nuwer, NY Times, October 17, 2012, http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/safe-passage-for-pronghorns/
"What can I do with a degree in Wildlife," Humboldt State University, http://www.humboldt.edu/wildlife/wildcareers.html
"The Wildlife Society," The Wildlife Society, 2013, http://wildlife.org/
"Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists," Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes191023.htm
"Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/zoologists-and-wildlife-biologists.htm#tab-1
Shannon Dauphin Lee has been writing professionally for almost two decades on a wide variety of topics, including medical and health issues, education, home repair and relationships. She is the author of several published novels.