What is a Wildlife Consultant?

What is Wildlife Consulting?

A wildlife consultant is a scientist who provides hands-on wildlife management assistance to ranchers, farmers, landowners, hunting clubs, and wildlife agencies on an independent consultation basis. Most wildlife consultants are wildlife biologists.

Wildlife consulting is wildlife management on a consultation basis. Wildlife consultants work for private consulting firms, rather than government wildlife agencies. They providing technical assistance to landowners, businesses, and public wildlife agencies for a profit.

What Does a Wildlife Consultant Do?

Wildlife consultants use their scientific expertise to help clients manage wildlife populations for a variety of purposes. The work they do largely depends on the type of client. For example, when working for state and federal agencies, they typically perform the following tasks:

  • Create or evaluate habitat restoration plans
  • Conduct wildlife surveys
  • Plan and implement management programs to reduce the number of deer or other animals

When consulting for ranchers, farmers, other landowners, and hunters, they often perform these tasks listed below:

  • Manage wildlife to optimize populations for recreation and ecotourism purposes
  • Plan and implement management programs to maximize the number the trophy animals on client lands
  • Conduct wildlife surveys and make harvest recommendations
  • Conduct wildlife habitat assessments for clients who are planning to purchase land
  • Provide budgeting, marketing, and safety planning services to ranchers, farmers, and other landowners who are integrating commercial wildlife operations.

Wildlife consultants can help public agencies and caring landowners protect vulnerable species by reducing threats and restoring critical habitat.

Where Does a Wildlife Consultant Work?

Most wildlife consultants work full time. While they create management plans and write reports from offices, they also spend a considerable amount of time in the field, where they assess habitats, observe wildlife, conduct wildlife surveys, and assist with hunting operations. They may be exposed to weather extremes and pests while working outdoors. They may need to traverse rough terrain by foot, boat, horse, or all-terrain vehicle.

Wildlife consultants are employed throughout the United States. However, most jobs are located in western states that have an abundance of rangeland, ranches, and public lands. Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming are some examples.

What is the Average Wildlife Consultant Salary?

Zoologists and wildlife biologists, which are related to wildlife consultants, earned an average salary of $57,710 in 2012.

StateTotal EmploymentBottom 25%Median SalaryTop 75%
Alabama100$45,500$58,750$69,360
Alaska840$55,430$67,910$80,170
Arizona430$44,530$55,580$66,960
Arkansas170$40,690$49,040$59,310
California2,860$48,590$62,830$86,060
Colorado500$52,910$60,370$72,380
Connecticut70$74,650$86,270$100,850
District of Columbia90$62,480$97,930$126,790
Florida1,350$35,760$45,350$57,800
Georgia360$36,060$43,550$51,830
Hawaii150$52,450$62,490$86,080
Idaho500$45,040$56,780$71,110
Illinois150$48,600$58,520$74,980
Indiana80$40,700$54,170$66,970
Iowa90$59,560$69,270$69,280
Kentucky220$35,500$43,110$53,360
Louisiana100$46,530$63,140$74,630
Maine300$43,190$50,860$57,570
Maryland230$72,880$96,460$122,090
Massachusetts570$43,960$56,020$77,630
Michigan230$58,520$67,940$78,680
Minnesota720$46,640$54,830$61,790
Mississippi170$41,200$56,370$84,750
Missouri270$39,830$47,460$58,520
Montana330$47,030$56,510$70,800
Nebraska130$44,970$54,120$62,930
Nevada280$42,260$55,860$67,330
New Hampshire90$45,220$54,320$64,230
New Jersey140$50,420$77,870$91,710
New Mexico190$38,840$52,220$65,480
New York380$53,170$64,500$74,590
North Carolina430$44,160$52,520$65,320
North Dakota90$52,570$63,130$69,850
Ohio200$47,060$56,250$62,360
Oklahoma90$33,630$40,080$56,280
Oregon1,150$50,350$61,310$74,880
Pennsylvania270$42,420$52,100$63,150
Rhode Island40$67,630$75,710$88,070
South Carolina310$35,310$45,870$61,220
South Dakota160$38,460$46,330$57,170
Tennessee100$42,000$54,790$67,280
Texas360$49,610$59,310$75,680
Utah340$41,260$52,190$64,090
Vermont100$44,780$54,950$66,280
Virginia210$46,260$54,370$65,350
Washington1,760$54,640$63,940$83,490
West Virginia120$36,200$46,700$63,150
Wisconsin360$40,890$51,270$60,110
Wyoming340$48,540$59,350$65,150

Table data taken from BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes191023.htm)

What is the Job Demand for Wildlife Consultants?

Employment of zoologists and wildlife biologists is projected to grow 5% from 2012 to 2022, which is slower than average. Opportunities at consulting firms that primarily work with state and federal agencies will depend heavily on government budgets. Candidates with practical experience gained through volunteer work or internships at zoos, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and nonprofits will have the best opportunities.

How Do I Get a Wildlife Consultant Degree?

Wildlife consultants typically earn bachelor's degrees in wildlife biology. Some major in ecology, general biology, zoology, rangeland management, or related areas. Degree programs include coursework in animal behavior and physiology, disease, ecology, genetics, and population dynamics. Students also study parasitology, chemistry, mathematics, as well as pollution and land use issues that affect wildlife. Some students may take courses in a particular area of specialty, such as mammalogy or ichthyology.

Degree Options for Wildlife Consultants

Wildlife Consultant Certification

The Wildlife Society administers optional Associate Wildlife Biologist and Certified Wildlife Biologist credentials. Certification demonstrates competency and adherence to high professional standards. Certification requires a combination of experience, providing instruction in wildlife management, publications, formal and informal continuing education, and professional service.

What Kind of Societies and Professional Organizations Do Wildlife Consultants Have?

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    This bureau within the federal government's Department of the Interior ensures that all wildlife laws and restoration projects are being properly enforced and executed. They're a great resource for information on wildlife conservation strategies and current wildlife laws.
  • The Wildlife Society
    This non-profit conservation society provides public educators and outreach specialists with free information and meetings to ensure that professionals are always up-to-date on the latest findings. They also offer internships for students pursuing careers in wildlife management.
  • Zoological Association of America
    This nonprofit organization provides current information about best practices in zoological and wildlife-related fields, including evolving ethical issues.
  • Society for Range Management
    This organization focuses on rangeland - arid and semi-arid lands covered by native grasses and shrubs that's used as grazing area for livestock. Rangeland is also home to important species like the sage grouse. Since wildlife consultants often work on rangelands, this organization's job board is an excellent place to find employment opportunities.