What is a Wildlife Inspector?

What is Wildlife Inspection?

Wildlife inspection is the process of reviewing imports and exports of live animals and goods to uncover illegal activity. Wildlife inspection takes place at international airports, ocean ports, and border crossings. While it mainly deals with commercial cargo, it also includes passenger traffic.

What is a Wildlife Inspector?

A wildlife inspector is a government official who reviews shipments of live wild animals at international airports, sea ports, and border crossings. Wildlife inspectors also monitor shipments for products produced from wildlife such as trophies, furs, leather shoes and bags, jewelry, meat, feathers, coral, and shells. They ensure that all legal procedures have been followed, and that the information given matches the animals or items being reviewed.

What Does a Wildlife Inspector Do?

Wildlife inspectors monitor imports and exports of live animals and goods for signs of illegal trafficking. They review permits and verify that documents and labels match the animals and products described. Wildlife inspectors confiscate protected animals and wildlife products. To do this, they must understand a variety of U.S. and international laws, regulations, and treaties that protect wildlife. They must also have the ability to identify thousands of different species, either as live animals, parts, or products.

Wildlife inspectors also interact with the general public. In addition to working with passengers at airports, they also meet with customs brokers, trade groups, hunters and others to educate them about wildlife import and export regulations.

By fighting illegal smuggling, wildlife inspectors are helping save endangered and threatened species around the world.

Where Does a Wildlife Inspector Work?

Wildlife inspectors work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and are stationed at international airports, ocean ports, and border crossings. They work in cargo holds, warehouses, and passenger terminals. They must stand, stoop, and lift while inspecting boxes. They must also use safety equipment such as heavy gloves and flashlights to prevent injury from animals and unknown items.

What is the Average Wildlife Inspector Salary?

Immigration and customs inspectors, which are similar to wildlife inspectors, earned an average salary of $79,870 in 2014.

StateTotal EmploymentBottom 25%Median SalaryTop 75%
Alabama1,250$37,460$47,150$69,770
Alaska100$91,020$115,420$126,600
Arizona5,900$71,760$88,080$91,740
Arkansas530$34,030$39,470$55,540
California12,020$81,030$97,560$111,880
Colorado1,590$63,460$78,720$93,890
Connecticut920$64,920$73,860$91,770
Delaware80$64,100$107,650$130,940
District of Columbia2,630$92,000$126,110$133,550
Florida7,050$46,580$63,420$94,040
Georgia3,720$38,240$45,800$69,770
Hawaii480$73,010$84,280$104,380
Idaho400$44,900$57,860$83,660
Illinois2,760$64,120$80,660$112,080
Indiana1,340$44,140$56,630$69,810
Iowa360$55,760$66,410$88,720
Kansas1,050$44,290$56,770$74,280
Kentucky690$39,930$49,460$91,740
Louisiana2,060$38,430$46,330$67,810
Maine590$44,340$55,890$88,090
Maryland1,030$53,720$92,990$126,120
Massachusetts2,030$51,120$65,250$84,860
Michigan1,840$65,330$81,180$102,850
Minnesota1,090$56,490$68,590$90,680
Mississippi960$35,810$42,800$54,700
Missouri1,630$40,050$60,770$86,020
Montana540$49,700$78,070$91,750
Nebraska350$51,250$65,770$84,900
Nevada620$60,990$72,190$95,410
New Hampshire340$53,380$61,570$74,200
New Jersey2,990$81,200$101,520$120,660
New Mexico1,890$68,890$88,070$91,740
New York10,250$58,290$96,570$115,320
North Carolina3,390$39,440$45,710$57,570
North Dakota240$57,870$86,010$102,280
Ohio1,970$51,570$62,400$82,490
Oklahoma1,610$32,270$44,720$62,770
Oregon840$57,780$72,620$91,240
Pennsylvania2,660$62,690$74,160$94,840
Puerto Rico730$32,590$48,750$102,280
Rhode Island310$57,190$67,970$83,630
South Carolina1,160$36,490$45,190$61,430
South Dakota210$44,780$57,660$86,020
Tennessee1,580$40,050$47,890$68,820
Texas16,550$53,280$84,160$91,740
Utah360$45,890$59,520$103,230
Vermont240$58,090$88,860$94,610
Virginia3,680$56,360$82,350$122,420
Washington2,320$51,910$80,620$100,360
West Virginia350$32,990$40,030$88,860
Wisconsin1,220$58,240$66,670$74,010
Wyoming190$55,870$68,070$81,270

Table data taken from BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333021.htm)

What is the Job Demand for Wildlife Inspectors?

Employment of immigration and customs inspectors as a whole is expected to see little or no growth through 2022. Wildlife inspection is a stable field with little turnover. However, retirements may open up some opportunities in this area. Job growth will also depend on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's budget, which can vary from year to year. Aspiring wildlife inspectors can look for available openings at USAJobs.com, the federal government's job board.

Do I Need a Wildlife Inspector Degree?

While there are few formal requirements for wildlife inspectors, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service states that a background in criminal justice is helpful. Knowledge of zoology or wildlife taxonomy is also highly recommended. New employees must complete a training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia.

Degrees Related to Wildlife Inspectors

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

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is a bureau within the federal government's Department of the Interior. FWS ensures that all wildlife laws and restoration projects are being properly enforced and executed. It publishes Fish and Wildlife News, a newsletter written by and about Fish and Wildlife Service employees in offices around the nation. It's not only a great resource for current wildlife laws, but also a source of federal employment.
  • The National Association of Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs (NACLEC) collaborates with state, federal and international conservation law enforcement agencies, and aims to foster new leaders in the profession. NACLEC is open to senior-level state and federal officials who administer or enforce conservation laws. The organization's Leadership Academy offers management and leadership training. Its website is an excellent resource for conservation law news.