Wildlife Biology, BS, Minor
About the Program
The understanding of our natural environment has never been more important than the present. The pressures of a growing population, increased development, altered communities and changing climate present serious problems to ecosystems locally, nationally and globally. Programs to study and monitor our environment's health are widespread, occurring through federal and government agencies, universities and numerous private organizations. These programs require enthusiastic dedicated individuals with the necessary training to carry out intensive field studies on individual species, communities and ecosystems.
The Wildlife Biology degree is an environmentally-focused program that synergistically integrates zoology, botany, earth science and chemistry. The program is based on the belief that field experience is vital to the understanding of ecosystems. Field experience includes exposure to a wide variety of habitats, including aquatic and terrestrial communities, field observations, and collection and analysis of data. Students are expected to be able to identify flora and fauna of an area and learn collection, observation and census techniques. The field experiences are complemented by a thorough understanding of ecological theory and practice as well as an in-depth understanding of the different fields of natural history. Much of the field experience takes place at the Elk Valley Preserve, a 70-acre preserve located on the Elk River. This area includes a variety of terrestrial and aquatic habitats typical of the Southern Appalachians. The field station is a fully operational ecology lab equipped with field and lab gear for student projects and research. The preserve and field station presents students with the opportunity for ecological field studies in a natural setting.
Upon graduation, Wildlife Biology majors will have both the necessary knowledge and skills to find employment as biologists for a wide variety of employers including the National Park Service, National Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Army Corps of Engineers, state agricultural extension programs, state and county parks, environmental assessment and restoration businesses, zoos, fish hatcheries, private forestry companies, utility companies, and conservation organizations. Students will also have the necessary curriculum and experience to be accepted to and succeed in graduate school.
Wildlife Biology Highlight: Can you identify these mammal tracks?
Tracks (Left - Right):
1. Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)
2. White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
3. Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
4. Mink (Mustela vison)
These animal tracks were made by Wildlife Biology students in their mammalogy class! The Gray Wolf cast was made at the Wolf Sanctum, a local Gray Wolf rescue center, and the other casts were made at the Elk Valley Preserve.
Identification of local fauna and flora is a high priority in the Wildlife Biology program. A variety of identification techniques are used including tracks, camera traps, vocalizations, scat analysis, DNA analysis, and direct observations.