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Online Wildlife Law Enforcement Degrees: Program Overviews

Learn about online wildlife law enforcement degrees. Get an overview of program types, requirements and course descriptions, as well as career information and continuing education available for this field.

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Essential Information

Students thinking about a career in wildlife law enforcement may pursue bachelor's degrees in fisheries and wildlife science or management. Training in the field may also be offered as a concentration through a fully online environmental studies program.

Online bachelor's degree programs in fisheries and wildlife science are available, although these programs are often offered in a blended format that requires some on-campus laboratory courses. Federal agencies generally require a bachelor's degree for professionals in this field, while state agencies may require only two years of postsecondary education. Check the educational requirements of the agency or department for which you intend to work when choosing a degree program.


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Bachelor's Degrees in Fisheries and Wildlife Science

Graduates of bachelor's degree programs in fisheries and wildlife management or science may find employment as wildlife law enforcement officers, among other career possibilities. Programs may help students develop skills necessary for protecting natural habitats from animal and human predators, enforcing fishing and hunting laws, and documenting damage caused by human activity or natural occurrence. In addition to topics directly concerning wildlife law enforcement, curricula may also include studies in soil and water science, as well as wildlife behavior, biology and ecology.

Program Information and Requirements

Typically, four years is needed to complete a bachelor's degree program. Students enrolled in online programs need a computer and access to the Internet in order to participate in classes. Assignments are managed online through a course management system. Instructors combine traditional textbooks with online teaching tools, such as multimedia presentations. In some cases, students will need to complete on-campus course and lab work in biology.

List of Courses

Along with general education requirements, students take courses specific to the major which cover topics in fish and wildlife preservation, as well as legal issues relevant to law enforcement in a wildlife setting.

Wildlife Management Basics

A wide variety of wildlife management topics are discussed in this course, including human and natural factors that influence plant and animal populations and habitats. The course stresses conservation, an understanding of the human's role in maintaining healthy ecosystems, and the need for healthy diversity among plant and animal systems.

Fish and Wildlife Programs and Policies

Domestic and foreign policies and programs related to fisheries and wildlife habitats are a main theme of the course. Students gain a historical perspective of the development, implementation, and assessment of fish and wildlife policies. Students also look at common challenges and opportunities in the field.

Enforcement of Wildlife Law

Topics discussed in a wildlife law enforcement course include the role of permits for various uses and activities, legal searches and seizures, surveillance activities, and ethical practices. Students may also talk about the role of law enforcement activities in habitat management.


Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a minimum of two years of college is generally required of fish and game wardens hired by state agencies while a bachelor's degree is often required of law enforcement personnel hired by federal agencies (www.bls.gov). New hires typically participate in additional training specific to their job duties that may last as long as one year. As of May 2015, the BLS reported that fish and game wardens earned a median annual wage of $52,780 with the majority of those employed working for state governments. The report also stated that Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota employed the highest concentration of fish and game wardens.

Continuing Education

Students interested in continuing their education may pursue graduate study in areas relevant to wildlife law enforcement, although these programs aren't typically available online. Wildlife law enforcement courses may be found in master's degree programs conferring degrees in parks and recreation management, agriculture and natural resources, or wildlife and fisheries conservation. Doctoral degrees in similar subjects are also available.

Wildlife law enforcement can be studied through hybrid bachelor's degree programs that have some on-campus requirements or through fully online environmental science programs that have a concentration in the wildlife conservation.

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