Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Bachelor's Degree

Oversee wildlife populations through habitat management, implement policies to protect endangered species, and explore population dynamics. Be what tomorrow needs with a Bachelor of Science in wildlife ecology and conservation at Michigan Tech.

Other schools own forests—but ours is right out the back door at the Ford Center and Forest. There isn't a better place to study natural resources than the wild Keweenaw Peninsula, bordered by Lake Superior, blanketed with forests and wetlands (and 218+ inches of snow each winter). First-year students have two outdoor field labs and are all eligible to participate and be paid as Earn and Learn students, acquiring the hands-on knowledge and experience to land a summer job or internship after their first year.

Upon graduation, students will have obtained hundreds of hours in the field, from classroom labs, to research. This experience puts our students a step above the rest when it comes to working for government agencies, non-profits, consulting firms, and others.

What is Wildlife Ecology and Conservation?

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation is the study of animals in their natural habitats and how these systems compete and interact with humans in our world today.

Wildlife ecology is about managing populations in an ethical, sustainable way to benefit the coexisting relationship that humans and wildlife have. Conservation efforts aim to enhance these systems, restore them, or protect them in today's climate-driven world. Observe patterns of distribution, combined with the biology and habits of animals to balance ecosystems. Study bird movement across fragmented Hawaiian landscapes, osteoarthritis risk in wild moose, aquatic-plant herbivore habits, and distributions in urban areas. Your studies take you to the places where humans and wildlife intersect, from endangered species prevention or mitigation, to hunting and fishing regulations, to habitat protection or restoration. Wildlife ecology and conservation is about managing wildlife for tomorrow.

What Will I Study?

If you love to be outside and are interested in studying animal populations and how land-use and management decisions affect them, you'll feel at home in our wildlife ecology and conservation program—home to the longest-running predator prey study in the world.

Study conservation science, population ecology, conservation genetics, wildlife techniques, and mammalogy. Fieldwork, teamwork, leadership, and professional development prepare you to model, analyze, compare, communicate, and deploy tools and techniques used to understand nesting, migration, food supply, and how biodiverse systems like fish streams are affected by factors and systems ranging from hydrological development to climate change.

  • Roam ecosystems of your proving ground: the wild Keweenaw Peninsula, bordered by Lake Superior and blanketed with forest and wetlands.
  • Digitize wolf howls. Tag birds. Track wildlife with radio telemetry. Assess, monitor and manage wildlife populations. Learn the process for making effective land management decisions for wildlife habitat maintenance and protection of ecosystem composition.
  • Learn how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and be proficient in GPS, land measurement and remote sensing skills.
  • Put your newfound skills and knowledge to work ASAP. After the first year of classes you'll be qualified to find a summer job in your field and start building your future career.

arial image of the ford center in the fall

"Camp" at the Ford Center and Forest

Spend a semester outdoors at our 3,500 acre forest just 40 miles away from main campus in Alberta, MI. During student's third year, they will live, eat, sleep, and study with peers while living in dorms located right on the property. Get out in the field Monday through Friday for classes such as survey of silviculture, forest health, and wildlife habitat to collect samples, study natural ecosystems, and learn the necessities that will help you attain your natural resource career. Learn more about "camp" - or integrated field practicum - here. 

Be Career Ready

As the climate continues to change, it is vital to understand and manage wildlife in their ever-adapting habitats in a way that is ethical and sustainable.

Each year, the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science hosts its own Natural Resource Career Fair. ~20 companies from across the US travel to the college in late fall to educate and recruit employees.

Our wildlife ecology and conservation graduates go on to work at government agencies, non-profits, and even create their own consulting companies.

Career Opportunities for Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

  • Wildlife Biologist

  • Fisheries Biologist

  • Conservation Biologist

  • Endangered Species Specialist

  • Wildlife Refuge Manager

  • Natural Resources Manager

  • Wildlife Researcher

  • Veterinarian

  • Environmental Educator

Michigan Tech Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Majors Have Been Hired By

  • Pheasants Forever

  • Department of Natural Resources
  • Fish and Wildlife Service
  • US Forest Service
  • County Conservation Districts

Ready to take the next step?

Learn more about studying wildlife ecology and conservation at Michigan's flagship technological university.

  • 8:1
    student-to-faculty ratio
  • 25
    typical lab size
  • 3.5K
    acres to explore at our residential field camp

Where Research Goes Outdoors

"Bird abundance throughout North America has decreased by 29% since 1970, and we’re not going to learn why by sitting in a classroom... The result of our field research at Michigan Tech impacts climate change research, conservation policy, and economic development far beyond the systems we study."Jared Wolfe, research assistant professor

Student Learning Goals

Students in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science can expect to achieve the following learning goals—which also align with the University's Undergraduate Student Learning Goals:

  1. Develop in depth knowledge of the field of wildlife ecology and management.

  2. Develop a strong set of field skills related to the management of natural resources.

  3. Effectively identify and evaluate sources of information relating to wildlife ecology and management.

  4. Provide alternative solutions to situations or problems in wildlife ecology and management.

  5. Communicate effectively (orally and in writing) about issues related to wildlife ecology and management.

  6. Develop skills that ensure they behave with a high level of professionalism.

  7. Develop the ability to work effectively in teams.

Why Research Matters

Researcher holding a fish in a lab.

Our strong passion for research creates professionals who have the hands-on experience needed to sustainably manage wildlife habitats. From feeding habits of fish in the Great Lakes, to arthritis in moose, to population spikes in wolves at your favorite national parks - there is a research topic that is sure to help you find your passions.

Diverse Ecosystem of Environmental Stewardship

If you have a love for the woods, and a desire to sustain resources for the future, you will feel at home in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (CFRES). Our College is a community on a first-name basis, connected by a shared passion for study, research, and work centered on forest health and ecosystem integrity. Similar to Keweenaw’s biodiverse ecosystems, CFRES is a community of undergraduates, graduates, faculty, staff, and alumni who learn, lead, and thrive in the unique environment the college has to offer. You’ll notice flags from countries around the world when you step into the door of our atrium. We are a safe space for all who love natural resources, with a commitment to a sense of belonging

3,650 Acres of Research Forest

Michigan Tech’s Ford Center is home to our 3,650-acre forest. Located just over 40 miles from campus, students in their third year get to live, learn, and play in the woods for a whole semester. Learn how to navigate among the trees, count board feet, identify forest pests and diseases, and explore ways to mitigate them. Take a swim in the Sturgeon River while taking water samples, quantify woody and herbaceous plants, design maps, and learn to mark timber.  Spend a couple of hours in the classroom, and the rest of the day outdoors. Work closely with your peers and professors to create management plans that best suit the environment for the changing climate.

Integrated Field Practicum at the Ford Center

The Integrated Field Practicum (IFP) is the cornerstone of natural resource management at Michigan Tech, and stands out among the rest as the only off-campus, semester-long field practicum in the United States. Offered in the Fall and Summer.

Master of Science in Forest Ecology and Management

Earn a master’s degree and build upon research from your undergrad. The Master of Science in Forest Ecology and Management provides greater opportunity for career advancement and a higher starting salary. Study ecological services in managed landscapes - from nutrient cycling to bird habitat, and the impact management has on wildlife functions.

Tomorrow Needs Stewards for Wildlife

Join a community that believes in renewable resources, protecting wildlife, and multiple use forests in a sustainably-driven society at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, sustainability, and passion. Graduate with a foundation of knowledge and real-world experience in natural resource management.

Undergraduate Majors

Analyzing salamander populations. Measuring moose bones. Surveying for wolf tracks. Conserving the California Condor. As a research institution, we offer far reaching ecological programs with global impact (like the longest running predator-prey study in the world).

Or, start with our General Forestry option and give yourself time to decide.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side Through the Lens of an Isle Royale Researcher

A rare marten on Isle Royale stares at Michigan Tech research and field photographer Sarah Hoy from a tree on the Lake Superior island in the summer.

Fieldwork and photography go hand-in-hand for Isle Royale wolf-moose research assistant professor Sarah Hoy.

"When I’m working on the island, I try to always have my camera around my neck — even if I’m going for a quick ski to get some exercise on days when it’s too windy to fly in the survey plane..."

Learn More About Hoy