Bachelor of Science
Biology: Wildlife Science
Professional Wildlife Biologists:
Wildlife professionals are entrusted with management and conservation of our wildlife resources.
As such, wildlife professionals are responsible for:
Sound management of wildlife resources requires a thorough understanding of wildlife species and their needs, ecology, habitat manipulation, human values, and the role of wildlife in our society. Additionally, biologists must be able to communicate their understanding of these complex relationships to the public and to various levels of government.
A degree in wildlife biology qualifies students for a wide variety of jobs ranging from law enforcement to wildlife management and wildlife education. Many of our students seek jobs with state or federal agencies including Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Private conservation agencies like The Nature Conservancy, educational organizations, private ranches and environmental consulting firms also employ wildlife biologists.
Wildlife Science: The Program
Our use of the term “wildlife” is more inclusive than many other wildlife programs and includes species traditionally categorized as game or nongame, animals and plants, and both terrestrial and aquatic systems. Our program focuses on providing students with 1) a solid understanding of the biology and ecology of wildlife species through field work and classes in ornithology, mammalogy, herpetology, ichthyology, etc., 2) an understanding of how to utilize management techniques to achieve desired management goals based on a species’ biology, 3) opportunities to gain field/research experience using the latest techniques and tools of wildlife biologists by assisting faculty and graduate students with research projects and through field trips, and 4) an understanding of the process of science through exposure to wildlife research. Students are further exposed to professional wildlife biologists through our Wildlife Club, field trips, access to volunteer activities and in their classes.
West Texas A&M University is located in the Panhandle of Texas on the Llano Estacado (staked plains), a large plateau covered by short-grass plains. A diverse array of plants and animals occur in our area because of our location. The Panhandle is on the eastern edge of the distribution of western species and the western edge of the distribution of many eastern species and members of both groups are common here. The Llano Estacado also contains the highest density of playa lakes (shallow, seasonal wetlands) in North America. As a result, the area is a very important migratory stopover and wintering area for waterfowl and shorebirds.
We experience four seasons in the Panhandle and occasionally receive substantial snow. This area is notable for its variability in temperatures with 30° F to 40° F daily temperature fluctuations and temperatures occasionally below 0° F in winter and above 100° F in summer. Mostly, the conditions are fairly mild during winter with brief cold spells and long relatively mild periods. January is our coldest month with average highs around 52° F and lows of 24° F. Spring and fall tend to last several moths and conditions are variable. Summers are hot but tolerable because of low humidity. July is our hottest month with average highs of 93° F and lows of 66° F. We receive an average of 20” of precipitation annually but precipitation is also highly variable
Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located 15 miles east of the University on the escarpment of the Llano Estacado. The Park is representative of the rugged lands that form the eastern border of the Llano and is the site of many field trips and student research projects. Other local areas of interest include Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Crossbar Ranch (Bureau of Land Management), and Caprock Canyon State Park. Locally common species during certain seasons include sandhill cranes, bald and golden eagles, prairie falcons, northern pintails and other waterfowl species, Mississippi kites, scissor-tailed flycatchers, Swainson’s hawk and burrowing owls. Coyotes, bobcats, white-tailed and mule deer, black-tailed prairie dogs, greater roadrunners, Texas horned lizards, prairie and western diamondback rattlesnakes, barred tiger salamanders and Texas tarantulas are common year-round residents. Pronghorn, lesser prairie chickens, massasaugas and swift foxes can be found nearby.
The Wildlife Program at West Texas A&M University offers both a B.S. (Biology/Wildlife Science) and a M.S. degree (Biology). Wildlife majors (B.S.) will need to complete 75-80 hours of degree requirements (primarily biology, chemistry and other science courses), general education classes (core curriculum), and electives to total 127 semester hours to meet the degree requirements.
We offer a variety of biology classes to prepare students to work as wildlife professionals. An assortment of required classes are designed to provide students with exposure to principles for both traditional wildlife management and more modern ecosystem management. We place an emphasis on classes that focus on the biology, ecology, and natural history of vertebrates. Classes like Mammalogy, Ornithology, Herpetology, and Ichthyology are necessary to provide students with an adequate understanding of these groups. Numerous additional upper-level biology and environmental science classes are available and allow students to focus on specific areas of interest or to prepare students for Certification as a Wildlife Biologist by The Wildlife Society. Click here for a current copy of the curriculum for Biology/Wildlife (in Word format).
General Advice for New Students:
The Wildlife program at West Texas A&M University is a very rigorous program designed to produce qualified and competitive wildlife professionals. To ensure that you are competitive, maintain a good grade point average (GPA), become involved with existing research projects, get to know you advisor, professors, and professionals in the field and be an active member of the Wildlife Club.
Dr. Raymond S. Matlack
West Texas A&M University
Canyon, TX 79016-0001