About Us

The Wildlife Biology Program builds on the strengths of people at the University of Montana. Faculty, staff and students work together to form an interdisciplinary group from the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and ConservationDivision of Biological Sciences and Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit.

Our students get a strong academic and scientific background, but we also emphasize experiential learning and hands-on experience. Our academic programs and geographic location provide excellent opportunities for wildlife study. Students use the resources of Yellowstone and Glacier national parks and several national forests and federal wildlife refuges. The National Bison Range, less than an hour from Missoula, serves as a teaching laboratory and research facility. The W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation operates the Lubrecht Experimental Forest and the Bandy Ranch near Missoula. The University’s Biological Station, eighty miles north on Flathead Lake, offers biology courses during the summer and is available for scientific research.

A history of the Wildlife Biology Program at the University of Montana

In 1936, a specialization within Forestry in Wild Life Management was created and in 1937 a somewhat similar specialization within what is now the College of Arts and Sciences in Wild Life Technology was created.

In 1965, for the first time, a B.S. was offered in Wildlife Biology with three options (Terrestrial, Aquatic, or Wildlife Sciences). During that same year, one could earn a B.S. in Forestry with a wildlife option. There was also a Forestry master’s degree offered in Wildlife Management. In 1969, the wildlife option under Forestry was removed. The wildlife graduate degree in Forestry was renamed Wildlife Biology. However, the Wildlife Biology bachelor's degree was still separate from Forestry at that time.

Finally, in 1970, Wildlife Biology became a cooperative program between Forestry, Botany, Zoology, and the Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit. The Wildlife Sciences option was renamed the Honors Option. This cooperative structure, now between the W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation, Division of Biological Sciences, and Montana Cooperative Research Unit, still stands today.

This video outlines the Program history and includes audio recordings of Dick Taber, John Craighead, Les Pengelly, Phil Wright, and Bart O'Gara.

Ranked No. 1 in North America

In 2016, Academic Analytics noted that our program is top among research universities in the U.S. and Canada for our faculty research productivity. Our faculty members were compared to their peers in top programs in two countries based on publications, citations, research grants and notable awards.

Ecology Research top-ranked

A study led by recent graduate Megan Kelville looked at scholarly productivity in the field of ecology. After adjusting for relative institution size, the University of Montana ranks fifth out of the 316 institutions examined for scholarly productivity in influential ecology journals. By these criteria, UM ecology faculty and their graduate students are leaders in ecological research across North America and rank among the most prestigious institutions in this field. Read more.

Program of National Distinction

The Wildlife Biology Program is a University of Montana Program of National Distinction