Over 2,000 people are employed in wildlife biology in the United States federal government. The size of this constituency motivated me to examine the amount of formal education federal biologists have received and the extent of continuing education they undertake by reading journals or attending scientific meetings. Most federal biologists who are members of The Wildlife Society (TWS) have a graduate degree. However, one-third have only a Bachelor of Science degree, despite the current trend toward hiring people with graduate degrees. Most federal biologists are not research biologists. Numbers of journals subscribed to was positively related to educational level. Less than one-third of all wildlife biologists employed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service are members of TWS or subscribe to any of its journals. In contrast, the majority of presenters at the TWS 2000 Annual Conference were research biologists and members of TWS. The failure of many federal wildlife biologists to read scientific literature or attend professional meetings indicates a failure to promote the importance of continuing education in the federal workplace. I identify 2 potential adverse impacts of this failing: an inability to recognize important and relevant scientific contributions and an ineffectiveness in carrying out adaptive management.
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Educational background and professional participation by federal wildlife biologists: Implications for science, management, and The Wildlife Society