Wolf Biologist: Job Description, Salary and Duties

Sep 10, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a wolf biologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and necessary skills to find out if this is the career for you.

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Wolf biologists are animal scientists who study the breeding habits and migration patterns of wolves. They are expected to have at least a bachelor's degree in wildlife biology, but if they wish to lead their own research, they will need a doctorate in order to secure funding. While the places with the highest paid wildlife biologists include Maryland and Connecticut, the states with the highest wolf populations to be researched are Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Essential Information

Wolf biologists specialize in observing and documenting the habits of wolves and wolf packs. Most wolf biologists work outdoors watching wolves in their natural environments. Some biologists focus on wolves in captivity, while other biologists help relocate wolves into territories with less human encroachment. While the minimum requirement for this position is a bachelor's degree, a Ph.D. is required to perform independent research.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in wildlife biology or similar field minimum requirement, while a Ph.D. is required to carry out independent research
Other Requirements Must be willing to spend time outdoors observing wolves; research expeditions may also be required
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 5% for all zoologists and wildlife biologists
Median Salary (2018)* $63,420 for all zoologists and wildlife biologists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Wolf Biologist Job Description

Wolf biologists study the lifestyles, breeding habits, and migration patterns of wolves. Information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) stated that some major research sites where wolf biologists work included Yellowstone National Park and the Northern Rocky Mountains (www.fws.gov). Most biologists spend months in the field actively watching wolf packs. Some biologists also work as political activists who encourage politicians to change laws that help protect dwindling wolf populations.

Wolf Biologist Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not separate the salaries for wolf biologists from other wildlife biologists. As of May 2018, the BLS showed that the national median annual salary for all wildlife biologists was $63,420. During this same year, the five states that paid wildlife biologists the highest annual average salaries were the District of Columbia at $109,420, Massachusetts at $87,950, Maryland at $83,850, Connecticut at $78,830, and Alaska at $76,640.

As of 2016, the FWS reported that the states with the highest gray wolf populations included Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. Although these states are not listed among the highest-paying states, it is important to note that wolf biologists often conduct research outside of their state of employment. For example, a wolf biologist working out of Massachusetts may obtain his or her data through frequent research trips to Michigan.

Wolf Biologist Job Duties

Job duties range from strict observation to physical interactions with wolves. Those who observe wolves write notes about the size of each animal, the amount of wolves in each pack, wolf meeting sites, hunting grounds, and preferred prey. Biologists who physically interact with the wolves often trap them humanely to conduct tests. Testing can include blood samples, physical measurements, and checking the teeth for food particles. Sometimes biologists place locator collars on wolves to later track migration patterns using radiotelemetry.

Wolf biologists also organize research expeditions. Organizing expeditions may include acquiring necessary funding through grants or private investors. Biologists also hire additional biologists as well as interns and volunteers. Wolf biologists often train staff members on how to watch wolves, notate behaviorisms, and how to properly handle the animal. After the expedition, wolf biologists gather the research and write reports based on the findings.

Wolf biologists are scientists who specialize in the research of wolves, their dietary habits and migration patterns. They will typically have at least a bachelor's degree in wildlife biology, but in order to lead their own research and expeditions, they will need a PhD. This job market is growing as fast as the national average, at an expected rate of 5 percent for the next decade. Those who find positions would earn a median wage of $63,420 in 2018.

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