What Does a Wildlife Veterinarian Do?

What Does a Wildlife Veterinarian Do?

By Megainterview Team

A Wildlife Veterinarian is responsible for treating wild animals, from providing medical treatment and surgeries to conducting research and conservation efforts. These veterinarians play a critical role in the preservation of endangered species and the environment.

Expand

Their duties include performing diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, providing medical treatment, conducting research, and educating the public about wildlife health and conservation. The salary for a Wildlife veterinarian can vary depending on a number of factors such as location, employer, and years of experience.

In this article, we will dive deeper into the responsibilities and duties of a Wildlife veterinarian, their salary trends, and the qualifications and skills needed to excel in this role.

Wildlife Veterinarian Duties and Responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of a wildlife veterinarian include the following:

  • Diagnosing and treating illnesses and injuries in wild animals
  • Conducting research on wildlife health and disease
  • Participating in conservation efforts for endangered species
  • Collaborating with other wildlife professionals, such as biologists and conservationists, to plan and implement wildlife management programs
  • Participating in fieldwork, including capturing and tranquilizing animals for examination and treatment
  • Advising government agencies and other organizations on wildlife health and management issues
  • Educating the public about wildlife health and conservation
  • Providing veterinary care for animals in captivity, such as those in zoos or rehabilitation centers

Wildlife veterinarians will also be responsible for providing medical care to wild animals that are injured, ill, or orphaned and also research to improve their health and the preservation of their population.

Wildlife Veterinarian Job Requirements

The job requirements for a wildlife veterinarian typically include:

  • A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree from an accredited veterinary college
  • A license to practice veterinary medicine in the state or country where the veterinarian will be working
  • Experience working with wild animals, either through a formal education program or through hands-on experience in the field
  • Knowledge of the biology, behavior, and health needs of the specific species the veterinarian will be working with
  • Strong problem-solving, analytical, and critical thinking skills
  • Good communication and collaboration skills, as wildlife veterinarians often work in teams with other wildlife professionals
  • Physical stamina and the ability to work in remote or rugged locations, as well as to handle and manipulate wild animals safely
  • Willingness to work flexible hours, including evenings and weekends
  • A valid driver’s license
  • Meet other basic requirements according to the employer.

Additionally, many employers prefer or require candidates with advanced degrees in zoological medicine, wildlife health or related field, or several years of experience in wildlife veterinarian field.

Wildlife Veterinarian Skills

A wildlife veterinarian should have a variety of skills to effectively diagnose, treat, and research wildlife health issues. Some of the most important skills for a wildlife veterinarian include:

  • Medical and surgical skills: wildlife veterinarians should be able to diagnose and treat a wide range of illnesses and injuries in wild animals, as well as perform surgery when necessary.
  • Field experience: Wildlife veterinarians need to be comfortable working in remote and rugged locations, often in the field, and have the ability to handle and manipulate wild animals safely.
  • Knowledge of wild animals and their behavior: Wildlife veterinarians should have a solid understanding of the biology, behavior, and health needs of the species they will be working with, which also include knowledge of the different habitats and ecology of the species.
  • Critical thinking and problem solving: Wildlife veterinarians should have the ability to analyze data, and develop and implement management plans that would be effective to preserve and protect wild animal’s population.
  • Communication skills: Wildlife veterinarians should have excellent communication skills, and able to work effectively with other wildlife professionals, as well as with government agencies, organizations and the public.
  • Physical stamina: Wildlife veterinarians will need to be physically fit and able to work in adverse weather conditions and remote locations, and able to lift, carry, and move heavy equipment and animals.
  • Adaptability: Wildlife veterinarian must be able to work in a fast-paced and changing environment and must be able to adapt to new situations.
  • Leadership skills: Some wildlife veterinarian may lead a team of professionals in the field and able to manage different projects simultaneously.

Some additional skills that may be valuable for a wildlife veterinarian include proficiency in a foreign language, a knowledge of statistics or GIS, or computer skills.

Wildlife Veterinarian Salary

The salary for a wildlife veterinarian can vary depending on factors such as location, employer, and level of experience. Some possible job titles for a wildlife veterinarian, along with the corresponding salary ranges, include:

  • Staff Wildlife Veterinarian: $50,000 – $80,000
  • Senior Wildlife Veterinarian: $80,000 – $120,000
  • Lead Wildlife Veterinarian: $100,000 – $150,000
  • Head of Wildlife Veterinary Medicine: $120,000 – $180,000

Please note that these are approximate figures, and salary can vary greatly depending on specific job responsibilities, qualifications, as well as the location and type of employer.

It is important to remember that the median salary of a wildlife veterinarian is also affected by the location where they are working, some remote locations pay less than urban locations with more facilities and resources. In addition, government agencies, universities, non-profit organizations and wildlife rehabilitation centers may have different budgets, so the salary might vary among different types of employers.

Wildlife Veterinarian Work Environment

The work environment for a wildlife veterinarian can vary depending on the employer and the specific job responsibilities, but generally, the work environment can be challenging and demanding.

A wildlife veterinarian will likely spend a significant amount of time working in the field, in remote and rugged locations. This could include working in national parks, wildlife refuges, or other natural areas where wild animals live. Fieldwork can be physically demanding and may involve hiking, carrying equipment, and working in adverse weather conditions.

Wildlife veterinarian also may be responsible for providing medical care to wild animals that are injured, ill, or orphaned, and also do research to improve their health and the preservation of their population. They may have to capture and tranquilize animals for examination and treatment and have to work with dangerous animals and use proper handling techniques.

Veterinarians may also work in zoos or wildlife rehabilitation centers, where they will provide veterinary care for animals in captivity. These environments may be more controlled and provide a laboratory setting for research work.

They may also work for government agencies, wildlife conservation organizations, or research institutions. These workplaces may be office-based and will require a high level of collaboration with other wildlife professionals.

Overall, wildlife veterinarian’s work environment will require flexible hours, and the ability to work in a fast-paced and changing environment, with the possibility of working outside normal business hours.

Wildlife Veterinarian Trends

The field of wildlife veterinary medicine is constantly evolving, and the latest trends can vary over time. However, some of the current trends in wildlife veterinarian salaries are:

  • Increasing demand: As awareness of wildlife conservation and animal welfare issues grows, there is increasing demand for qualified wildlife veterinarians. This is expected to lead to more job opportunities and potential for career advancement.
  • Changing job market: The job market for wildlife veterinarians is changing, with more positions opening in private practices, zoos, and research institutions, creating more diverse employment opportunities.
  • Growing focus on One Health: One Health is an approach that recognizes the interconnection between animal, human, and environmental health. There’s a growing focus on this, creating opportunities for wildlife veterinarians to work closely with human and environmental health professionals to address issues that cross these boundaries.
  • Specialization in certain species: Wildlife veterinarians may specialize in certain species based on their interests and the needs of their employer, including aquatic animals, birds, primates, carnivores, and many others. Specialization in certain species can lead to higher pay and increased job opportunities.
  • Emphasis on sustainable practices and conservation: As the importance of sustainable practices and conservation becomes more significant in wildlife veterinary medicine, many employers look for candidates who understand and are committed to sustainability and conservation.

How to Become a Wildlife Veterinarian

Becoming a wildlife veterinarian typically involves several steps:

  • Education: The first step to becoming a wildlife veterinarian is to complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree program from an accredited veterinary college. These programs typically take four years to complete and include both classroom instruction and hands-on training. Some veterinary colleges offer specialized tracks or programs in wildlife medicine.
  • Licensing: After completing a D.V.M. program, graduates must pass a national board exam and obtain a license to practice veterinary medicine in the state or country where they wish to work.
  • Experience: Many employers prefer or require candidates with advanced degrees in zoological medicine, wildlife health, or related field or several years of experience in the wildlife veterinarian field. Gaining experience in the field through internships, externships, or volunteer work can help aspiring wildlife veterinarians build the skills and knowledge necessary for a career in this field.
  • Advancement: many wildlife veterinarians choose to specialize in certain species, depending on their interests and employer needs. Specialization in certain species can lead to higher pay and increased job opportunities. Many organizations also require or prefer veterinarians with board certification.
  • Continuous education: Wildlife veterinary medicine is a constantly evolving field, and many organizations require veterinarians to complete continuing education (CE) to maintain their professional skills and knowledge. Some veterinarians also choose to pursue additional degrees or certifications to advance their careers.

Becoming a wildlife veterinarian is a challenging and demanding process, but it can also be a highly rewarding career for those passionate about wildlife conservation and animal welfare.

RelatedWildlife Officer Cover Letter Examples & Writing Guide

Wildlife Veterinarian Advancement Prospects

The advancement prospects will vary depending on factors such as the type of employer, level of experience, and specific job responsibilities. Some possible advancement paths for a wildlife veterinarian include:

  • Staff Wildlife Veterinarian to Senior Wildlife Veterinarian: This path involves taking on more responsibilities and increasing levels of expertise within the same organization. The senior wildlife veterinarian will likely have a higher level of experience and will be responsible for leading research or management projects and mentoring junior staff members.
  • Lead Wildlife Veterinarian to Head of Wildlife Veterinary Medicine: This path involves taking on more administrative responsibilities within the same organization and may include managing a team of wildlife veterinarians, developing policies and procedures, and representing the organization in government and professional meetings.
  • Staff Wildlife Veterinarian to Wildlife Veterinarian in Private Practice: Some wildlife veterinarians may choose to open their own private practice, allowing them to have more autonomy and control over their work schedule but also taking on additional responsibilities of running a business.
  • Staff Wildlife Veterinarian to Government/NGO/Academia/Research positions: Many Wildlife veterinarians also move to work in different types of organizations, such as government agencies, conservation organizations, universities, or research institutions where they can apply their skills and knowledge to different settings.
  • Specialization: Wildlife veterinarians may choose to specialize in certain species depending on their interests and the needs of their employer. Specialization in certain species can lead to higher pay and increased job opportunities.

Overall, wildlife veterinarians have many career advancement opportunities and different options to advance their careers, depending on their interests, skills, and the needs of their employer. They can move to more senior roles within their current organization, move to different types of organizations or pursue opportunities as a private practitioner.

Wildlife Veterinarian Job Description Example

Here is a job description example for a Staff Wildlife Veterinarian:

Job Title: Staff Wildlife Veterinarian

Reports to: Lead Wildlife Veterinarian

Job Summary:

The Staff Wildlife Veterinarian will be responsible for providing medical care to wild animals in a specific region. He/She will be responsible for capturing and tranquilizing animals for examination and treatment, and also conduct research to improve the health and preservation of their population.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Provide medical care to wild animals that are injured, ill, or orphaned
  • Capture and tranquilize animals for examination and treatment
  • Conduct research to improve the health and preservation of wild animal’s population
  • Collaborate with other wildlife professionals, such as biologists and conservationists, to plan and implement wildlife management programs
  • Advise government agencies and other organizations on wildlife health and management issues
  • Participate in fieldwork, including capturing and tranquilizing animals for examination and treatment
  • Provide veterinary care for animals in captivity, such as those in zoos or rehabilitation centers

Education and Experience:

  • A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree from an accredited veterinary college
  • A license to practice veterinary medicine in the state or country where the veterinarian will be working
  • Experience working with wild animals, either through a formal education program or through hands-on experience in the field
  • Knowledge of the biology, behavior, and health needs of the specific species the veterinarian will be working with

Skills and Competencies:

  • Strong problem-solving, analytical, and critical thinking skills
  • Good communication and collaboration skills
  • Physical stamina and the ability to work in remote or rugged locations, as well as to handle and manipulate wild animals safely
  • Willingness to work flexible hours, including evenings and weekends

This is just an example, and job responsibilities and requirements may vary depending on the employer and location, but this give a general idea of what a Wildlife veterinarian position entails.

Similar Jobs

Turn interviews into offers

Every other Tuesday, get our Chief Coach’s best job-seeking and interviewing tips to land your dream job. 5-minute read.

🤝 We’ll never spam you or sell your data