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Conservation challenges in 2018: Getting your degree in wildlife management

Wednesday, January 17, 2018
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Conservation challenges in 2018: Getting your degree in wildlife management
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Do you enjoy spending time in nature, and are you passionate about protecting the Earth's many creatures and ecosystems? Then you may want to consider receiving a graduate degree in wildlife management

This fascinating, dynamic field attracts motivated individuals who want to see their work have a tangible, positive impact on the planet. A degree in wildlife management can help you work in a variety of jobs, including those related to conservation, plant science, wildlife biology and protected land management. Schools, national and state parks, museums and city governments are all in need of individuals with wildlife management experience. There are also consulting opportunities in the field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the number of conservation science and forestry jobs will increase 6 percent between 2016 and 2026, as fast as average for other industries. 

If you want to work or pursue a degree in wildlife management, you should be aware of the hot issues and trends in the field this year:

natureHelp protect the natural world by working in wildlife management.

The push for innovation to overcome obstacles 
In December 2017, a team of researchers released their much-anticipated annual report, "A 2018 Horizon Scan of Emerging Issues for Global Conservation and Biological Diversity," in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution. The report outlines the top 15 issues facing conservation this year, and while the challenges cover a diverse range of subjects, they all have one thing in common: a commitment to using innovation to overcome obstacles. 

Ensia Editor in Chief Mary Hoff provided a rundown of these 15 topics. Gene editing is being proposed to control the spread of invasive species, for example, while sustainable design methods are being developed as ways to potentially minimize the environmental and wildlife impact of major transportation infrastructure projects around the world. In Iceland, researchers have developed a fishing method that uses laser beams to herd fish without ecologically destructive nets. Each innovation is still being developed and has potential downsides but is being enthusiastically explored around the world by conservation experts. 

"GIS and GPS technologies have many exciting applications."

GIS and GPS
As technology evolves, it's getting to the point where anyone interested in having a career in wildlife management needs to be adept at using geographic information systems and global positioning systems. These tools are increasingly being depended upon by national parks, land surveyors, environmental groups and other organizations to collect, store and analyze data about an area and its ecosystem to inform environmental protection strategies. GIS and GPS technologies have many exciting applications. They can be used to better understand the movement of animal populations or the impact of humans on nearby animal habitats. Other use-case examples include identifying and correcting weak points in waterways and predicting the likelihood of an area experiencing a wildfire, according to GIS Lounge. 

Budget changes
Those interested in working in wildlife management should also be aware of potential budget cuts that may affect the operations of many environmentally focused organizations in the next few years. For example, President Donald Trump last year proposed a plan to reduce the budget of the Department of the Interior, which oversees the National Park Service. Critics of the plan believe it will cause significant changes to the operation of the parks, including a hike to ticket prices. 

Wildlife management is an exciting and immensely rewarding field, and receiving your graduate degree can help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to move forward with your career. Every individual interested in working in wildlife management or a related area should be aware of the hot issues above that the field is facing.

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