What Does a Wildlife Manager Do?


Wildlife managers perform a wide variety of jobs in their daily work. They may track and survey animals, manage hunts, do fieldwork and raise rare animals--all with the objective of managing wildlife and its habitats. They are usually employed by agencies and firms that need someone to manage natural resources, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


  • Few laws existed for hunting wild animals before 1900. All types of animals were killed year round, including the those that are now considered nongame species. Settlers were also changing the natural habitat by plowing prairies, draining wetlands and building towns. These two activities were decimating the populations of animals. To combat this, the governments started enacting legislation. On June 30, 1864, when the Yosemite Valley was transferred from public domain to the State of California, it stipulated that state authorities were to protect animals from capture and destruction done for the purpose of profit. In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt established the Pelican Island Federal Bird Reservation, establishing the first real animal refuge. The first wildlife refuge manager employed by the federal government was hired for Pelican Island and earned $1.00 a month.


  • Wildlife managers spend a majority of their time researching so they can develop effective management plans that will ensure a sustainable population of animals. They may help to develop legislation related to wildlife resources and may also enforce regulations. They conduct fieldwork to survey and track animal populations and can perform educational outreach services. Wildlife managers may also plan, create and manage sanctuaries for animals and will also work for private firms as consultants.


  • Fieldwork includes tagging; taking soil, plant and water samples to have them tested for pollutants; taking blood and tissue samples from animals to measure the amount of accumulated substances in their bodies; counting the animal populations; and studying migration and distribution of animals. Other tasks that wildlife managers perform outside of fieldwork include developing management plans for refuges and wildlife areas, helping to develop wildlife legislation, identifying hunting seasons and quotas and conducting educational seminars on things such as wildlife, sportsmanship and conservation practices.


  • Wildlife managers work to buffer the interactions between humans and wildlife, acting as a point of contact with the public. They deal with nuisance and injured wildlife, make public presentations and assess the interests and needs of the public. Management of our natural resources is their main objective.


  • Wildlife managers are employed by the federal government, state governments and local municipalities. They can also work in the private sector managing ranches and wildlife sanctuaries and work as consultants. The largest employer continues to be the federal government.

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