What Does a Wildlife Technician Do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A wildlife technician assists biologists, conservation scientists, and other personnel with ecological resource management. This can include work in the field as well as in the lab, along with data entry and report generation. Government agencies may have varying requirements for their wildlife technicians; typically they need to pass a civil service examination and they may need to have some formal education in biology or a related field. Responsibilities can involve long hours outdoors in harsh conditions.

Zebras in a wildlife sanctuary.
Zebras in a wildlife sanctuary.

Part of the job includes work in the field. A wildlife technician may gather specimens, trap and tag animals, and assist with the relocation of invasive species. Habitat preservation like planting grasses and flowers, cleaning rivers, and maintaining fragile environments may also be necessary. The wildlife technician can travel to field sites in vehicles or on foot, depending on location, and may need to stay in remote locations overnight or longer in some situations. Some work in pairs, while others may work alone in the field and need to be self-directed to complete tasks.

A supervisor may also require the collection of data through observation and testing. Wildlife technicians can conduct a census of inhabitants of a given location, and may take samples for analysis in a lab. They also take note of any issues indicating signs of an environmental imbalance that might need to be more closely investigated and addressed. For example, a wildlife technician might observe that construction is causing erosion because workers are not adequately protecting the site.

In the lab environment, wildlife technicians may catalog and record specimens, enter data in a computer, and assist with some tests. They also help with the preparation of reports. These may be designed for internal use or distribution to the general public and can include charts, graphs, and other supplemental data. Wildlife technicians may need to be familiar with internal computer systems as well as conventions in report writing so they can enter data consistently and appropriately.

The nature of the work can be highly diverse. Some wildlife technicians work largely independently because of their high level of experience and competence. Others may need to be more closely supervised because they are not as well trained. Room for advancement in a wildlife technician position can depend on the number of jobs at an agency; as people rise in the ranks they may qualify for more pay and benefits like additional paid vacation days or sponsorships to attend conferences and other events to enrich their training.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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