2 answers

Wildlife Biology or Wildlife Biology with a concentration in Wildlife Rehabilitation?

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Next year, I will be transferring to a school and pursuing a Wildlife Biology Bachelor's degree. Originally, the Wildlife Biology degree with a concentration in Wildlife Rehabilitation interested me because I thought the rehabilitation concentration would provide increased skills. My career goal is wildlife conservation/research. The concentration requires specific classes that focus on wildlife education (public presentations) and rehabilitation skills. Would the concentration take away or add to my competitiveness for wildlife conservation? The concentration does require a clinical at the rehabilitation center and originally I saw it as a way to increase my animal handling skills that would provide animal handling experience for future wildlife monitoring/research work. My other electives classes will be focusing on ecology and field classes. #ecology #conservation #biology #veterinary

2 answers

John’s Answer


I'm a wildlife biologist who used to issue permits to wildlife rehabilitators. Wildlife rehabilitation is an interesting and satisfying field, but I'm not aware of colleges that offer a wildlife rehabilitation specialty. And your probably don't need a wildlife degree to work as a wildlife rehabilitator. I think it would be more worthwhile to pursue training as a veterinary technician. Or you may find programs that train folks to work in zoos. That said, most wildlife rehab centers do offer their own training, (the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) has established training standards that many rehabbers follow (see https://theiwrc.org/courses).

While there may be paid positions in wildlife rehabilitation, Tte majority of wildlife rehabbers I know are volunteers .

John recommends the following next steps:

  • Check out the IWRC website (https://theiwrc.org/courses)
  • Check out the Assocation of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) web site (https://www.aza.org/). It has information on careers in animal care and management.
  • If you haven't yet, find and visit a local wildlife rehabilitation center and talk to the folks there about the training they've had and what qualifications they look for.
Thank you for your insight. Since starting school I have decided to drop the rehab concentration because it will allow me to take more ecology based classes which will be more relevant to the wildlife conservation/research field I will be going into. While I have taken care of animals in previous interns/jobs and have enjoyed it, the mental stimulation of research gets my blood pumping, so I will not be pursuing a rehabilitation based job. What advice would you give for someone who wants to be a wildlife biologist? Thank you.

Todd’s Answer


Patricia, I am a small animal veterinarian, so I do not have a background in wildlife, but I would recommend that you keep your education as general as possible early on, and then as you see and experience more things you can become more focused in your studies.

Todd recommends the following next steps:

  • If you know the school you will be transferring to, talk to one of the instructors there , or one of the counselors in the admissions office. Most schools have people on staff to answer these types of questions. Talk to several people to get different input. Do you know, or can you contact someone already working in your chosen field? Local wildlife department?Good luck, be persistent.
Thank you for your insight! I decided to take some wildlife rehab classes down the road if I needed classes to fill my schedule, but wanted to make sure all the ecology, --ology (like ornithology), and field classes could be taken. After talking with some wildlife biology professionals, especially government positions, certain classes in certain categories need to be taken (such as 9 credits plant, 9 credits --ology, etc.). Thank you for the advice to talk to a teacher at my transfer school. Hopefully they can give more insight on class selection. I was working with a counselor for class selection, but she didn't have much to say about the wildlife rehabilitation concentration vs. ecology, etc. classes. I will continue reaching out and being persistent, thank you!