Florida softshell turtle, Apalone ferox, photo by J.D. Willson

Softshell Turtle Contract Herpetologist

Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Cody, Wyoming
Closing Date

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is seeking a contract herpetologist to coordinate and conduct a project to determine the distribution, population demographics, and habitat associations of Eastern Spiny Softshell turtles in the Bighorn River drainage in northcentral Wyoming. The herpetologist will help develop and implement the project, supervise technicians, and write reports to summarize results. This is a 2-year position, funded from March 2021 through March 2023. The salary is $25.55/hour.

The objectives of the project are to:

  • Use standardized sampling techniques to determine the distribution of Eastern Spiny Softshell turtles in the Bighorn and Nowood Rivers of Wyoming and estimate population demographics (e.g., size structure and sex ratios);
  • Use citizen science observations to obtain additional distribution data and inform trapping efforts;
  • Characterize habitat associated with turtle presence and absence
  • Characterize nesting habitat and assess the availability of nesting habitat in the Bighorn drainage;
  • Use information gathered from the above objectives to evaluate population status and develop a management/conservation plan. 

Surveys, trapping, and radio-telemetry will primarily be conducted using a jet boat. Waders, rain gear, and other necessary field equipment will be provided. Housing, when not in the field, is not provided.


The following are illustrative only and are not intended to describe every function which may be performed in the job level.

  • Lead a crew of 1-2 technicians to survey for, trap, and radio-track softshell turtles.
  • Safely operate a jet boat.
  • Collect detailed data on softshell turtle habitat associations and movements, compile and analyze data.
  • Write interim and project completion reports to summarize results and provide management recommendations.
  • Work closely and coordinate efforts with other Wyoming Game and Fish personnel, external agencies, and private landowners.
  • Work with public and private entities to develop relationships for future conservation efforts.
  • Periodically camp for up to 1 week at a time near field locations.  A camper, camping equipment, and other provisions will be provided while in the field.
  • Make purchases for the project, file appropriate paperwork, and manage project budget. 


  • Must have a valid driver's license.
  • Experience with and ability to maintain a wide array of field equipment, including 4WD trucks, boats, GPS units, and radio-telemetry equipment.
  • Knowledge of using nets to trap turtles or other aquatic vertebrates.
  • Skilled in computer software and hardware, including GIS, databases, spreadsheets, and word processing.
  • Must have a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, and work well with others in a team setting. 
  • Excellent decision-making ability, oral and written communication skills, and interpersonal skills. 
  • Good analytical skills and the ability to collect detailed data. 
  • Ability to work independently and perform fieldwork under adverse weather conditions and with limited supervision.
  • Required to drive 2 – 4 hours a day to field sites.
  • Required to drive a 4WD truck in rough terrain and to pull a boat trailer.
  • Required to operate a motorboat in river environments.
  • May work and camp in the field with coworkers in areas with little or no cell phone coverage.
  • Must be able to work long hours in waders and adverse weather conditions (e.g., hot, cold, bugs).
  • Will be required to work a variable schedule that, at times, could include long hours and nights.

Preference will be given to those with a master's degree in wildlife management, herpetology, ichthyology, biology, ecology, natural resources management, or another closely related field, or with a bachelor’s degree plus 2 years of experience in fish and wildlife resource management, research, or habitat development.

To Apply

For the official job announcement, see governmentjobs.com/careers/wyoming/jobs/2909950/ataw99-13471-herpetologist-cody. Click on link at top right of page to apply.

Applicants must attach a cover letter explaining career plans, suitability for the job, and available start date. Please also submit 3 references.  Cover letter and references may be submitted with the online application and should also be emailed directly to Wendy Estes-Zumpf, Herpetological Coordinator (Wendy.Estes-Zumpf [at] wyo.gov).

For more information regarding this position, contact Wendy Estes-Zumpf at Wendy.Estes-Zumpf [at] wyo.gov or 307-721-1380.

The State of Wyoming is an Equal Opportunity Employer and actively supports the ADA and reasonably accommodates qualified applicants with disabilities.

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