Southern Burrowing Owl.
School of the Environment

Wildlife Ecology & Conservation Sciences

Wildlife Ecologists research and implement scientifically sound strategies for the conservation, protection, and sustainable management of wild animals and their habitats.

Explore the Possibilities

WECS majors gain hands-on experience with wildlife and conservation (including at WSU’s Bear Center and Ungulate Facility), and acquire cutting-edge technical skills in conservation genetics, wildlife nutrition, population modeling and geospatial analysis.

Our program offers direct experiences and courses working with wildlife to prepare you for a rewarding career or graduate or vet school.

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Sciences will provide you with real-world experiences through:

  • WSU’s unique captive wildlife research and teaching facilities featuring grizzly bears, deer, bighorn sheep, endangered rabbits and amphibians.
  • Field trips, internships, and undergraduate research projects with free-ranging wildlife such as large carnivores, ungulates, small mammals, amphibians, and upland game birds.
  • Working with professors who are nationally recognized experts in large carnivore management and conservation; behavioral ecology, reproduction, and nutrition of wildlife; habitat restoration and conservation of endangered species; and forest, grassland, and wetland habitat management

Career Opportunities

  • Conservation Biologist
  • Endangered Species Specialist
  • Wildlife Refuge Manager
  • Wildlife Officer/Game Warden
  • Veterinarian
  • Zookeeper
  • Natural Resources Manager
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Environmental Educator
  • Wildlife Biologist, Manager, or Researcher
Man Working on Prescribed Fire.

Quick Facts

$45-65k+ Average starting salary for a wildlife ecologist in Eastern WA (, 2023)
$240k+ Across the SoE system we award over $240,000 a year in scholarships
11:1 Student to faculty ratio

Major Requirements

Minimum Total Credits: 120 credits

Your program may include different courses. Consult with your advisor about the best combination and order of courses for you. Visit the WSU Catalog for a list of required courses for this major and course descriptions.

General Education and Introductory Science and Math Requirements: 45 credits

SoE Core Requirements: 20 credits

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Sciences Major Core: 50 credits

  • SOE 204: Natural Resources Measurements – 4 credits
  • SOE 301: Forest Plants & Ecosystems- 3 credits
  • SOE 302: Arid Land Plants & Ecosystems – 3 credits
  •  SOE 310: Methods in Wildlife Ecology – 4 credits
  • SOE 435: Wildlife Ecology – 4 credits
  • SOE 438: Natural Resources Policy & Law – 3 credits
  • SOE 441: Population Ecology – 4 credits
  • Animal Systematic – 4 credits
  • Advanced Wildlife Electives – 6 credits
  • Plant Course – 3 credits

Professional Electives Outside Major (depends on options): 12-16 credits

WSU Provided me with the hands-on learning experience needed to develop the specific skills and knowledge for a career in animal care and conservation. The SOE staff were encouraging and motivated to guide me to achieve my academic and personal goals.

Hannah Molony, Zookeeper, Oregon Zoo
Female student with Giraffe.