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

Wildlife Diversity Fish Biologist

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
Elkins, West Virginia
Closing Date
December 1, 2020

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) plans to fill a Wildlife Diversity Fish Biologist position (Wildlife Biologist 2 job classification) in the Elkins Operations Center in Randolph County. The position serves as the staff fish biologist within the Wildlife Diversity Unit of the Wildlife Resources Section that includes statewide responsibilities. The position conducts field and lab work related to non-game fishes in West Virginia including species of greatest conservation need, endangered species restoration, fish kill investigation, data collection, and conservation education. 

Duties and Responsibilities

Under the direction of the Wildlife Diversity fish program manager, this position oversees field and laboratory operations for the Wildlife Diversity Unit. The program’s goal is the conservation, protection, and recovery of non-game fishes in the state. This position leads a crew of technicians on survey, monitoring, and research projects and oversees fish sample processing and data capture in a laboratory setting.

The employee identifies data gaps, monitoring needs, research interests, and develops the field sampling schedule. The position coordinates field operations with other WVDNR personnel (e.g. District Wildlife Diversity and Fish Management biologists) and biologists from other agencies (WVDEP, USFWS, USFS). Stream conditions change overnight, and the employee must be able to on very short notice to complete project objectives. Fieldwork requires extensive overnight travel around the state.  

Field duties include safely operating a 20’ john boat on large rivers for electrofishing and trawling surveys, operating whitewater electrofishing raft, setting and retrieving fyke nets, conducting wadeable electrofishing surveys on small to midsized streams, snorkeling, and using seine and block nets. Collected fish will be either identified and enumerated in the field or preserved and transported back to the lab. Targeted fish sampling will occur to investigate a single species’ status and collect tissue samples for genetic or fish health analysis.

This biologist ensures protocols including assessing water chemistry, water quality, water quantity, and classifying aquatic habitat are followed by staff. The employee will participate in restoration and recovery projects involving federally listed species and species of greatest conservation need as identified in the State Wildlife Action Plan.

The employee will train staff in safe boat/trailer operation, electroshocking protocols, fish preservation, and the use of habitat sampling equipment while afield. Laboratory duties include fixing and preserving fish specimens, identifying survey samples, extracting and processing age structures, managing the chemical supply, diluting fixatives, ensuring accurate specimen identification, and entering sample data into the program database. The employee will train staff in safe lab procedures, back-up data, maintain chemical inventory, oversee laboratory equipment maintenance, and manage a reference fish collection.

This position will compile and analyze tabular and spatial data to 1) assess species status and distribution, 2) detect population trends, 3) determine aquatic community composition and richness, 4) detect aquatic non-native invasive species and, 5) detect evidence of possible introductions. Final products will include performance reports, technical reports for peer review, species status assessments, and conservation recommendations. 

The employee will be asked to investigate fish kill reports, serve as technical point of contact to law enforcement and regulatory personnel, present environmental education material to the public, attend public meetings, propose fishing regulations, participate in State Wildlife Action Plan development, and assist other Wildlife Diversity staff.


Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Strong background in fish taxonomy, biology, and ecology is required.
  • Knowledge of fish and habitat conservation practices is essential. 
  • Ability to identify West Virginia and regional fishes and aquatic organisms in field and lab settings is essential.
  • Familiarity with MS Office Suite, ArcMap, and Program R is required.
  • Familiarity with environmental monitoring equipment, software, and data (i.e., HOBOware; YSI; USGS discharge, stream temperature, conductivity etc.) is necessary.
  • Knowledge of principles related to electrofishing and electrofishing safety is essential.
  • Demonstrated experience operating and maintaining boats, rafts, outboard motors, 2-cycle engines, and trailers is essential.
  • Experience operating wadeable and non-wadeable electro-fishing equipment, fish traps and nets, water sampling gear, habitat sampling equipment, microscopes, laboratory equipment, and geospatial data collection equipment is preferred.
  • Demonstrated experience in designing and implementing scientific research including data collection, analysis, and literature review is essential.
  • Experience using appropriate fixatives and preservatives used for the collection of and long-term preservation of vertebrate and/or invertebrate specimens for lab identification, museum storage, cataloging, DNA samples, and fish aging is essential.
  • The ability to capture and analyze spatial and tabular data to develop well-supported conclusions is necessary.
  • Familiarity with the responsibilities and organization of other agencies (US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, WV Department of Environmental Quality, etc.) is preferred.
  • Familiarity with the federal environmental regulations and law such as the federal Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Clean Water Act is preferred, as is knowledge of West Virginia natural resource laws and regulations is desirable.
  • Must be detail-oriented and have strong organizational and communication skills.
  • Knowledge of invasive aquatic plants, animals, and aquatic diseases is preferred. 
  • Demonstrated experience in presenting scientific information in programs for citizen groups, agency personnel, private industry representatives, and professional/technical groups is essential.  
  • Must be able to swim and comfortable working in confined spaces such as boats for extended periods of time.
  • Leadership skills are essential. Supervisory experience is preferred.

Required Qualifications

  • Master of Science degree from an accredited college or university with a major in wildlife or fisheries management and biology, fish culture, conservation biology, natural resources, aquatic biology, botany, biological sciences, or environmental sciences. Preference will be given to educational and field experience as related to specific job postings.
  • One (1) year of full-time or equivalent part-time paid experience in wildlife or fishery management or related fields. Doctorate of Philosophy degree from an accredited college or university with a major in wildlife or fisheries management and biology, fish culture, conservation biology, natural resources, aquatic biology, botany, biological sciences, or environmental sciences.
  • A valid West Virginia driver’s license is required. If you are the selected candidate for the position and do not currently have a WV driver’s license you will have to acquire one prior to beginning employment.

To Apply

External applicants must be on the WVDOP Wildlife Biologist 2 civil service register to be considered for this position. It may take up to 4-6 weeks to successfully be added to an active register from the time you apply. If you wait until this position is posted, it will be too late and you will not be considered. This position will be posted in mid-November and will be advertised both inside and outside of state government. 

Non-government applicants must submit a state job application and required documentation (transcripts, certifications, etc.) required for the Wildlife Biologist 2 position:

  1. Go to http://www.personnel.wv.gov
  3. Search “Wildlife Biologist 2” and click on the Wildlife Biologist 2 job title. Alternatively, enter (https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/wv/jobs/1774940/wildlife-biologi…) into your browser window.
  4. Click the “Apply” link located on the right side of the page next to the Print Job Information link.
  5. The first time you do this you will be asked to create an account and an application. Make sure your application is completely filled out and your qualifications are detailed including all relevant certificates, skills, and supplemental material in the additional information section.
  6. For question 10 of the question section to make sure you select all counties if you are interested in other job opportunities within the WVDNR that are in other counties, or at a minimum, select Randolph to be considered for this job posting. If you do not select Randolph you will not be considered for this job posting. 
  7. Make sure phone numbers, addresses, and emails are valid and active in general information fields. These will be used to schedule interviews.
  8. To be considered for this job opportunity you must be active on the Wildlife Biologist 2 civil service register for Randolph county prior to the posting date of this job. To become active, you must follow all the previously described steps above and submit a copy of an official transcript or diploma to the WVDOP. This can be attached to your application online or submitted via e-mail to applicantservices [at] wv.gov

If you are claiming college or other post-high school education or license, you MUST attach or provide by mail a legible copy of your OFFICIAL education transcript, license or training record. YOU WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED FOR EMPLOYMENT UNTIL THIS VERIFICATION HAS BEEN RECEIVED. To avoid missing a job opportunity, it is important that you provide this verification as soon as possible.

Attach documents to the online application, or via email to: applicantservices [at] wv.gov, FAX: 304-957-0396, or mail to:

Division of Personnel,
Building 3, Suite 500,
1900 Kanawha Blvd.
E., Charleston, WV 25305.

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