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Career Story: Endangered Species Biologist

Endangered Species Biologist

Job Title: Endangered Species Biologist

Type of Company: I work for the government.

Education: BS, Zoology •• MA, Marine Policy

Previous Experience: I started by gaining different types of experience working in the field on different animal behavior and research studies including a trio that focused on whales, squirrels, and deer. When I first entered the profession, in order to gain experience, I assisted a career biologist on a number of management projects involving endangered species.

Job Tasks: I work with states, other federal agencies, and industry groups to ensure that their actions do not harm endangered species. I also work with researchers to try and understand what types of studies they could be doing to help endangered species recover. Some of that information is then used by other groups like state resource agencies to try and implement conservation programs to help protect and conserve endangered species. I also look at information about species that aren't considered endangered yet and try to determine if those species should, in fact, be reclassified -- listed as "threatened" or "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This requires a thorough study of the scientific literature on the specific species being reviewed. The last part of my job requires a significant amount of writing. For every species that is listed under the ESA, we are required to write a recovery plan. Therefore, after a species is listed, I have to draft the recovery plan that details the actions and tasks that must be undertaken in order to restore the species to health. This plan also discusses the status of the species and the threats that it faces.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is knowing that on a day-to-day basis I am working to help recover species that may be on the brink of extinction. I really enjoy working with a network of people as well who have conflicting interests. It is satisfying to be able to reach a compromise for the good of a species.

However, the worst part of my job sometimes finding that we're unable to agree on what is best for a species, and our disputes can be very contentious.

Job Tips:
1. I think it is important to take a good amount of environmental science and wildlife/ fisheries management courses.

2. Field work is critical. It is important to try and gain some field work experience working with the species, or in the environment, you hope to focus on.

3. Public speaking is a critical part of my job, and it's important to try and gain experience and feel comfortable with that as much as possible.

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