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
- 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?
Wildlife consultants, who fall under the broader BLS category of zoologists and wildlife biologists, earned a median salary of $66,350 as of May 2020.*
What is the Job Demand for Wildlife Consultants?
Employment of zoologists and wildlife biologists is projected to grow 5% between 2020 and 2030.* 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.
*2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures and job growth projections for zoologists and wildlife biologists reflect national data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed September 2021.