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Green Jobs in Fish and Wildlife Resource Management

The concept of wildlife may feel removed from the economy, but fish and wildlife management is an important part of the green economy. Maintaining the balance between these resources and human life is essential to a sustainable future. As such, an eco-conscious job-seeker should remember to search for opportunities in this environmentally beneficial field. Your green career transition could land you here!

People who work in this field spend quite a bit of time creating and maintaining the delicate balance that exists between keeping animals wild and people safe. In addition, they use a variety of scientific disciplines to study, manage, and conserve wildlife populations they are there to protect. The strategies they use to achieve positive results for wildlife include protecting endangered species, enhancing biodiversity, tracking migratory birds, and restoring fisheries and other habitats. In addition to educating the public about wildlife conservation and safety, wildlife managers also enforce laws and contribute their expertise to shape federal and local wildlife policies.

What’s happening now in fish and wildlife management

In the last few decades the focus of wildlife management has shifted from concentrating on a key species to conserving, restoring, and maintaining complete ecosystems and enhancing biodiversity. The impetus for this relatively new focus is the concern about the loss of species that is likely to occur over the next few decades. The broader, more interdependent perspective on wildlife populations makes it easier to restore diversity within ecosystems.

Together the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service attend to the needs of the fish and wildlife in parks and refuges throughout the country. To explore the extent of their reach, check out this list of national wildlife programs and this map of refuges in each state. Each state also has several departments that address local conservation issues and manage wildlife issues.

As a result of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will receive $280 million over the next few years for construction projects at service facilities, renewable energy projects, habitat restoration, deferred maintenance projects, and road construction on national wildlife refuges.

Future trends in fish and wildlife management

A coalition of more than 6,000 organizations, businesses, and agencies have worked together for several years on the Teaming with Wildlife campaign to bring a long-term, stable funding source to state fish and wildlife conservation programs. In May 2009 they announced $61 million in State Wildlife Grants to go toward conservation and restoration of habitats for species in danger of going extinct. These funds are to be distributed through grants into 2010.

The push to develop renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass, is bringing new challenges to wildlife managers throughout the world. Finding the best locations for utility-sized solar arrays, wind farms, and geothermal installations is a challenge on a good day. Unfortunately, no one really knows how these renewable energy systems will impact wildlife and habitats directly, indirectly, or cumulatively. To make the best possible siting decisions, wildlife managers must have a place at the negotiation table.

To get a sense of the scope of this challenge, consider this: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has “identified about 21 million acres with wind potential in the 11 western states, 29 million acres with solar energy potential in the six southwestern states and 140 million acres with geothermal resource potential in the West and Alaska.” As the renewable portfolio standard is put in place nationally, more and more states will be striving to generate more of their electricity through renewable energy sources.

Several groups are coming together to address this challenge collaboratively. For instance the Wind Energy Subcommittee of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the American Wind Wildlife Institute, a nonprofit organization that includes representatives from conservation organizations, government agencies, and industry, have been created to explore issues related to wind projects. The Audubon Society and the National Resources Defense Council have worked in concert to develop a Google map to highlight areas that are too sensitive for renewable energy developments.

Sample job functions in fish and wildlife

If you'd like your life's work to involve protecting the planet's fish and wildlife, consider some of the following careers

  • Wildlife management: Wildlife biologists, wildlife forester, game warden, wildlife refuge manager, wildlife animal control technician, wildlife keeper, mammalogist, natural resource specialist

  • Fisheries management: Fisheries biologist, fisheries technician, hatchery manager, aquatic toxicologist, aquatic ecologist, aquaculturist

  • Law enforcement: Special agent, wildlife inspector, park ranger, refuge officer, investigator

  • Research and program management: Scientist, program manager, program analyst, information technology specialist, information technology analyst, information technology programmer, natural resource economist

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