Wildlife science is the application of ecological knowledge in a manner that strikes a balance between the needs of wildlife populations and the needs of people. Research and teaching in wildlife science began at ESF in 1914, one of the first such programs in the U.S., and was quickly followed by establishment of the Roosevelt Wild Life Station in 1919. Today, our program is recognized nationally and internationally, and our graduates are employed worldwide. The focus is applied ecology, and students engage the environmental challenges associated with managing wildlife, ranging from endangered species to overabundant populations. The program recognizes and accommodates the fact that wildlife scientists increasingly must deal with all forms of wildlife, including plants and invertebrates, and the scope is becoming more international.
Students obtain background in the basic sciences (math, chemistry, physics), then learn the basic ecological principles and evolutionary forces that affect wildlife and their associated habitats. Course work then addresses the assessment and management of wildlife resources as well as the biology and natural history of various taxonomic groups. Students are advised to enhance career opportunities via taxonomic proficiency with one or more plant or animal groups, special skills such as GIS, and practical working experience as an intern, volunteer, or paid employee of a conservation agency.
The program prepares students for careers with state and federal agencies as well as an array of domestic and international non-governmental organizations. Diverse job functions include management of wildlife on state, federal or private lands; inventory and assessment of wildlife populations and associated habitats; and interaction with the public to convey the value and rationale of wildlife conservation programs and initiatives. Students who excel academically will also be prepared to continue toward a graduate degree, which can greatly expand employment opportunities and is often necessary for even entry-level, career-track positions.
Undergraduates in wildlife science take advantage of ESF's field stations, which are unmatched nationally and provide myriad opportunities. These properties include the 15,000-acre Adirondack Ecological Center and the Cranberry Lake Biological Station in the Adirondacks, as well as the Heiberg Forest south of Syracuse. Many of the courses taken by wildlife science undergraduates include field exercises at these facilities, and the properties are also used for undergraduate research and other projects in which undergraduate students can become involved.