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Dr. Wolcott with students setting mammal traps at Pertle Springs.


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Biology, BS - Area 7: Conservation Enforcement

Wildlife Biology - Conservation Enforcement BS

Would you like to help protect rare and endangered plants, animals and fish, as well as the environment? A Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, with an emphasis in Conservation Enforcement, from the University of Central Missouri will prepare you for a career in managing, conserving and preserving wildlife and their habitats. 

UCM’s Conservation Enforcement major combines elements from criminal justice and fish and wildlife degrees. You’ll learn to identify and classify plants and animals while gaining a solid foundation in investigative methods, relevant legislation and court procedures. As a result, you’ll have the knowledge and skills to uphold the laws and regulations designed to protect endangered animals and plants and their environments.

Wildlife conservation enforcement degrees pave a wide career track

Our faculty are deeply engaged with the Missouri Department of Conservation, US Department of Agriculture (USDA), US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and other state and federal agencies. University of Central Missouri alumni already working in the field stay involved with the program to support students following in their footsteps. These active professional networks can provide connections to career opportunities for graduates with fish and wildlife degrees such as the Conservation Enforcement degree from UCM.

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300-acre, on-campus nature preserve

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Ph.D. faculty supervise labs and research

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Hengshui University exchange program

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State & federal agency job opportunities

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Small classes, close faculty interaction

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Focus on Missouri laws, natural habitats

What you will study

UCM is one of only a handful of universities that offers a full range of specialty courses in the major areas of biology. While earning your Conservation Enforcement degree, you can choose electives such as Ichthyology, Plant or Animal Ecology, Ornithology, Herpetology, Entomology and Limnology.

Labs are conducted outdoors in natural habitats at our Pertle Springs Nature Preserve and in our animal and aquatic research center. You’ll also participate in hands-on, faculty-led research projects and fieldwork studies. 

A focus on policing responsibilities 

After laying the foundation of a fish and wildlife degree, our undergraduate program focuses on the legal duties of conservation enforcement jobs taught by UCM’s well-respected Criminal Justice program faculty. Study criminal laws and procedures, as well as the rules of evidence, as they relate to the prosecution and defense of criminal cases — all within the context of current political issues and social values. 

Through this interdisciplinary degree program, you’ll develop thorough knowledge in biology; gain experience with technical writing, public relations and public speaking; and study relevant legislation, investigative methods and court procedures. Classes you may take include:

  • Wildlife Management
  • Wildlife Diseases
  • Wildlife Policy and Law
  • Criminal Law and Procedure


Excellence in Biology

  • The Wildlife Conservation Enforcement degree from the UCM is one of only two biology conservation enforcement BS programs available in the state.
  • Best Value College: Biological & Biomedical Sciences according (College Factual, 2022)


Unique learning opportunities in conservation enforcement

UCM’s coursework in wildlife biology, hands-on activities and professional networking opportunities will help you compete for conservation enforcement jobs:

  • Career-building internships: Internships for UCM students earning a Wildlife Conservation Enforcement degree provide valuable work experience and lay the foundation for potential state and federal agency job offers. Our Conservation Enforcement majors have interned with a variety of state agencies such as the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
  • Research labs and fieldwork: Apply your biology studies to natural habitats at our 300-acre, on-campus nature preserve and our 3,000-sq-ft animal and aquatic research center. In lab-based outdoor classrooms and co-curricular research projects, you’ll get real-world experience using scientific analysis tools such as our high-tech drone and GPS mapping to protect wildlife and their habitats.
  • Student and professional activities: UCM’s campus chapters of The Wildlife Society and the American Fisheries Society offer Conservation Enforcement majors many opportunities to interact with federal and state agency officials. Learn about their missions to sustain wildlife populations and make valuable connections for future conservation enforcement jobs.


What can you do with a Conservation Enforcement degree from UCM?

UCM’s Biology bachelor’s degree in Conservation Enforcement will fully prepare you for jobs with private, public and government agencies. Our graduates work at the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies seeking graduates with fish and wildlife degrees. 

Wildlife Conservation Enforcement degrees lead to a variety of career paths

The knowledge, skills and hands-on experience you gain from UCM’s Conservation Enforcement degree program can lead to: 

  • Training federal, state, tribal and foreign law enforcement officers to uphold state and federal wildlife protection laws 
  • Conducting research and using forensic science to analyze evidence and help solve environmental and wildlife crimes 
  • Protecting wildlife, migratory birds and fish from poaching, illegal trafficking and environmental hazards
  • Continuing your studies to earn a master’s or doctoral degree

Use the interactive tool below to explore potential conservation enforcement career options and salaries with a Wildlife Conservation Enforcement degree from the University of Central Missouri.




Financial assistance options for your Conservation Enforcement degree

As an undergraduate student at the University of Central Missouri, you may be eligible for general university scholarships, awards and other resources that can help you finance your college education.

Numerous scholarships are also available specifically for Biology majors, including undergraduate students earning Wildlife Conservation Enforcement degrees:

  • Carlos Kays Biology and Earth Science Scholarship
  • Dr. Sam P. Hewitt Memorial Scholarship
  • Julie A. Harpster Memorial Scholarship
  • Dr. John Beishe Biology Scholarship

You can learn more about program-specific scholarships with the UCM Scholarship Finder.


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Take your degree further.

Enhance your Wildlife Conservation Enforcement degree with a master’s degree at UCM. By further specializing your education, you may increase your earning potential in conservation enforcement jobs:

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Make yourself more marketable.

Further specialize in the legal or technology aspects of your Wildlife Conservation Enforcement degree by adding a minor:

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Explore programs related to conservation enforcement.

If you’re interested in a career that’s more focused on one aspect of conservation enforcement — criminal justice or wildlife biology — you may want to consider these undergraduate programs at UCM:


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