Wildlife Management

Learn to manage wildlife populations in the wild through conservation, habitat management, captive breeding, and more.

Course CodeBEN205
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Work to conserve wildlife:
both in the wild, in zoos or working with captive breeding programs.

Wildlife management is the manipulation of wild animal populations and their habitats for the benefit of both humans and wildlife. Wildlife management includes running parks and reserves, altering and rehabilitating wildlife habitats, pest control, protecting human life and property and managing harvests of wildlife.

Controlling populations of wildlife may involve many different things, for example:

  • Managing wildlife habitats
  • Managing people
  • Managing individual animals in populations to either change or cause a population to remain constant.

The techniques and types of wildlife management vary depending on your location, and as with any job, you will find that you will need to carry out research into the local methods and types of wildlife management. This course is designed to give students a broad based introduction to the principles and practices of wildlife management common to many species around the globe.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Wildlife Management
    • What is Wildlife Management
    • Approaches to Wildlife Management (Preservation, Conservation, Management)
    • Purpose of Wildlife Management
    • Goals
    • Decision Making (Who makes decisions, Making good decisions)
    • Needs of Wildlife
    • What’s a Good Habitat
    • Limiting factor
    • Carrying capacity
    • Landscape Fragmentation
    • Habitat Diversity
    • Arrangement
    • Biological Control
    • Integrated Pest Management
  2. Wildlife Ecology
    • Ecology (Mutualism, Commensalisms, Competition, Predation, parasitism, herbivoury)
    • Behavioural Ecology
    • Population Ecology
    • Community Ecology
    • Ecosystem Ecology
    • Interactions within a Community
    • Competition
    • Predation
    • Parasitism
    • Commensalism
    • Mutualism
    • The Food Web (Derital Web, Grazing Web, Trophic Levels)
    • Energy Flow
    • Imbalances
  3. Wildlife Habitats
    • Introduction
    • Classification of Habitats
    • Biomes, Ecosystems, Microclimates
    • Timbered Biomes (Boreal Forest/ Taiga, Temperate Forest, Tropical Forest, Woodland)
    • Scrubland
    • Tropical Savannah
    • Temperate Grassland
    • Artic Tundra
    • Alpine
    • Semi-desert
    • Desert
    • Man Made Biomes (Urban, Agricultural)
    • Wet Biomes (Mangrove, Rivers, Benthos, Pelagic, Continental Shelf, Coral Reef,
    • Animal Use of Features in Biomes (Trees, Logs, Surface Rocks and Ground Cover, Creeks, Wetlands and Dams)
    • Case Studies
    • Changes to Habitats (Physical, Biological, Pollution)
    • Water for Wildlife
    • Siting Water Points
    • Managing Trees
    • Deforestation
    • Afforestation
  4. Population Dynamics
    • Populations
    • Birth or Fecundity Rate
    • Death or Mortality Rate
    • Growth Rate
    • Life Tables
    • Cohort or Dynamic Life Tables (Age Specific)
    • Static or Time Specific Life Tables
    • Rodents
    • Squirrels
    • Rabbits
    • Mosquitoes
    • Grasshoppers
    • Case Studies of different animals in different countries
  5. Carrying Capacity
    • Introduction
    • Exponential Population Growth
    • What is Carrying Capacity
    • Fisheries stock management (stock Identification, assessment, biomass)
    • Stock Management Methods
  6. Wildlife Censuses
    • Introduction and census types
    • Total Counts
    • Sampling (Simple Random, Stratified Random, Systemic, Two Stage, Double sampling)
    • Accuracy vs Precision
    • Bias Errors
    • Aerial Surveys
    • Trapping
    • Transects
    • Indirect Methods
    • Mark-Recapture method
    • Roadside and Call Counts
    • Mapping
    • Sampling methods for specific types of animals (ie. Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds, Invertebrates, Mammals etc.)
    • Animal Ethics
    • Case Study
  7. Wildlife Management Techniques
    • Habitat Modification
    • Fire
    • Vegetation Management
    • Predator Control
    • Habitat Features
    • Seeding
    • Population Monitoring
    • Captive Breeding and Release
    • Culling and Cropping
    • Control of pest or undesirable wildlife species
    • Control Objectives
    • Efficts of Control
    • Control Techniques (Manipulating mortality, fertility, Genetiv Engineering, indirect methods)
  8. Wildlife Management Law and Administration
    • Policy and Wildlife Law
    • International Environmental Law
    • Treaties
    • International Customary Laws
    • Hard vs Soft Law
    • Domestic/National Law
    • Evolving Domestic Law
    • Sources of Legislation
    • Environmental Ethics
    • Enforcement
  9. Wildlife Management Case Study Research Project
    • Problem Based Learning Project with following aims:
    • Identify the objectives of a management program for an endangered species.
    • Determine appropriate techniques for carrying out a census of an endangered species.
    • Identify techniques for increasing the population of the endangered species.
    • Identify pest species and their undesirable effect on the endangered species of bird.
    • Identify techniques for reducing the undesirable impacts of the pest species on the endangered bird.
    • Present a management plan in a form that is appropriate for use by wildlife workers.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Develop a concept of how man manages wildlife populations in different situations around the world.
  • Understand and discuss the principles of wildlife ecology.
  • Understand wildlife habitats and their importance to managing wildlife.
  • Explain how populations of any one species change and adapt to variations in their environment.
  • Understand carrying capacity and its importance in managing wildlife populations.
  • Explain a range of different methods used to determine the number of individuals in a wildlife population.
  • Discuss a range of different wildlife management techniques.
  • Explain the potentials and limitations of legal and administrative initiatives, in the pursuance of more effective wildlife management.
  • Examine a specific wildlife management case of interest to the student.

What You Will Do

  • Contact (either in person, email or by telephone) an organisation involved in wildlife management such as a National Park, wildlife reserve, zoo, etc to research their wildlife management program.
  • In your locality, find out about one pest species of wildlife and one endangered or threatened species of native wildlife. Research what happened to make these animals pests or endangered.
  • Visit a natural area in your locality and observe the organisms in the area and their interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Explain what trophic levels are and how energy flows between them.
  • Define habitat, biome, vegetation formation and feeding radius.
  • Visit a zoo, wildlife park, game reserve, pet shop, fauna sanctuary or other place where wild animals are kept in captivity to observe the animals in their captive surroundings and compare these with their native surroundings.
  • Identify a predator-prey relationship between two species in a local ecosystem and make predictions about changes to this relationship.
  • Research the difference between r and K strategists in animals.
  • Design a wildlife survey using a suitable sampling technique. Write this survey up as a mini scientific report containing an Abstract/Project Summary, Methods and materials section, Results/Discussion and Conclusion.
  • Research the success of one wildlife program where wildlife have been bred in captivity and then released.
  • Draw up a table that lists the advantages and disadvantages of allowing hunting to proceed in game parks where the animals being hunted are native to the area.
  • Telephone or contact a wildlife management agency in your area to determine the relevant local, regional, national and international laws that apply to wildlife in your locality.
  • Prepare a report on a population of animals surveyed during the course.


When the population of a species increases too much, too fast, it can become unsustainable. It may spread to other areas, impacting on animals in other locations. If on the other hand, population numbers are not maintained at an appropriate level, this can also throw the ecosystem out of balance. A decline in predatory species, for example; can result in other animals (which they attacked) increasing in numbers. A surge in a population like this may impact that species, particularly if there is insufficient food to sustain them.

Too many or too few of any species can destabilize the ecosystem and have unforeseen affects for many other species, both plants and animals.  Understanding population dynamics therefore, is one of the keys to understanding wildlife management

What is a Population?
A population is a group of individuals of the same species that interact and reproduce together in the one place. For manager’s, populations are usually the smallest group of animals that is self sufficient. Populations can cover small or large areas, and they may move around a lot or tend to stay in the once place.

Populations of different species will live and interact within an area. This group of populations is known as a community. This community will interact with its environment, forming the very important grouping known as an ecosystem. Ecosystems have both living (such as the community) and nonliving (such as the soil and the atmosphere) components.

Birth or Natality Rate

The birth or natality rate is the number of young produced per unit of time, while the death rate is the number of deaths per unit of time (this is usually measured per year). The number of young produced per adult varies between species, but in general, the longer an adult spends nurturing its young, the fewer offspring it will produce.

Death or Mortality Rate

The mortality or death rate is the number of organisms in a population dying as a proportion of the total population per unit of time (usually quoted per year). The mortality rate may vary with environmental changes.

Growth Rate

All populations have a birth rate, and death rate and a growth rate. The growth rate is dependant on the birth and death rates.

Population growth occurs when births exceed deaths, while population decline occurs when deaths exceed births. When the number of births in a population is equal to the number of deaths, then there is zero population growth and the size of the population remains unchanged.

If a small population is introduced into a favourable environment with an abundance of resources, this population may go through exponential, or continuously increasing growth. Many populations experience exponential growth in the early stages of colonising a habitat. This is because they take over an unexploited niche, or drive other populations out of a more profitable one. However, if a population continues to grow exponentially, they eventually reach an upper limit of the resources available. This normally causes a dramatic decline because of some calamity such as starvation, disease or competition from other species.

Generally, populations of plants and animals that experience cycles of exponential growth are those species that:

  • Produce many young
  • Provide little in the way of parental care
  • Produce an abundance of seeds, with little food reserves.

What Does a Wildlife Manager Do?

Every job is different. Tasks undertaken can depend upon many things, including where you are working, and the specific issues that need to be dealt with in that location.

Tasks undertaken by wildlife managers may include:

Culling and Cropping
Culling is the removal of some animals from a population in order to restore the balance between the number of animals and the available food.  Cropping is the harvesting of animals for food, hides or trophies.  
The difference between these activities can be subtle, as some animal species may be culled, but their body parts may be sold and used for meat, hide, bone, and other produce.  Culling and cropping can be very lucrative.

Predator Control
Where a predator is threatening a wildlife population, boundaries may be constructed to limit access by the predator. For example, fences and artificial watercourses may be constructed to keep the predator at bay. In some cases, the harvesting of a predator species may be the only solution. For a rare species, the presence of a predator can make a different between survival and extinction of prey.

Habitat Modelling
Habitat modelling can be used to determine how much can be put in or taken out of an area.  This can be particularly useful when a resource such as minerals, vegetation, timber, etc is being removed from the area and the manager wishes to determine how large a wildlife population can still be maintained in that habitat.

Habitat Management
Through controlled burning, providing water resources (eg. putting in a bore), tree planting, fencing, and other measures, an ecosystem  may be improved to make it more appropriate for species you are attempting to encourage.

Population Monitoring
Whilst it is hardly a manipulative technique, population monitoring is an essential part of wildlife management.  For this reason, Lesson 6 is devoted entirely to this subject.

Captive Breeding and Release
In some cases; particularly when populations are very low, wildlife managers may choose to capture animals and hold them in captivity in order to fully control their environment.  Animals may be encouraged to breed in captivity and subsequent animals are then released into the wild.  

Culling and Cropping
Culling is the removal of some animals from a population in order to restore the balance between the number of animals and the available food.  Cropping is the harvesting of animals for food, hides or trophies.  

Controlling Pests or Undesirable Species
Control of pest or undesirable species is similar to culling and cropping of desirable species.  However, the objective of control needs to be defined precisely – that is, according to the benefit derived from removing the pest species.  There are a range of methods that can be employed to control undesirable populations including mortality control, fertility control and a range of indirect manipulations.

Student Comment (P.Soult):"Great tutors, Very helpful feedback"

From a Tutor and Course Writer:
"ACS provides an excellent range of courses in the field of environmental studies. The study material is comprehensive and grounded in real world experiences. Our courses have this edge over other courses as students are applying their knowledge in set tasks and problem-based learning projects." - Jane Thompson, ACS Tutor 


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