The GS-0701 series covers professional positions that supervise, lead, or perform work in the veterinary medical sciences. The work involves promoting the health and welfare of both animals and the public through diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and understanding of animal diseases; conservation of animal resources; and advancement of veterinary medical knowledge. Learn more about holding a federal veterinarian jobs below.
The federal government employs 2,226 Veterinary Medical Officers. The Department of Agriculture  is the largest employer of this group with 1,774 employees. The Department of Health and Human Services  employs 34 while the DOI, VA, Army, EPA and the Smithsonian Institute employ small number of this occupational series. There are 23 veterinarians working for the Department of the Interior .
Samantha Gibbs is a is a veterinarian with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) at the Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, Maryland.
The wildlife veterinarian has many different services that they must perform. These services may include, but are not limited to:
- Wildlife capture efforts.
- Animal capture and handling, applicable chemical immobilization, and tagging-collaring-surgical procedures necessary for assessing individual animal movement, environmental conditions.
- Training of professional wildlife biologists in wildlife capture, handling, and/or animal processing;
- Development of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for safe wildlife capture, handling, tagging, and sampling in collaboration with other federal agencies and/or other international, state, local, or private organizations.
- Successful application for DEA Controlled Substances registration.
Q and A with Samantha Gibbs
Why did you become a Wildlife Veterinarian?
Growing up, I had a strong interest in wildlife ecology and conservation. After high school I went to work for a wildlife veterinarian and began to understand the strong role veterinarians play in forwarding wildlife conservation goals.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Probably the most challenging part of the job is turning research science into management actions that will improve wildlife health at a population scale. More often than not, there isn’t much we can do once a disease has begun to spread in wildlife.
What is the most unique experience you have had as a Wildlife Veterinarian?
I was once capturing wild ducks for avian influenza testing in northern Australia and had to ensure that when I released the birds after being swabbed they didn’t head towards the river because there was a line of crocodiles waiting at the water’s edge for a tasty treat!
What are the rarest and most common species of animals that you have come in contact with?
I have worked with hundreds of bird species, some quite rare and many very common. I currently serve as back-up veterinarian for the whooping cranes that are being bred and raised at Patuxent. I have also had the opportunity to work with bison, rhinos, Florida panthers, lions, manatees, feral pigs, and frogs!
What are some of the duties you have to perform as a Wildlife Veterinarian?
My work varies from field activities to research to policy. I provide field support such as surgical implantation of satellite transmitters in ducks, taking fat biopsies from bison, and performing post-mortems on animals that are a part of die-off events. I am involved in the development and implementation of research projects that investigate wildlife diseases. And I provide technical assistance for policy decisions that involve wildlife health issues.
Would you recommend Wildlife Veterinarian as a good career path?
The career of wildlife veterinarian has been an amazing journey for me. It involves many years of studying, sometimes extreme field conditions, sometimes long hours at a computer, and lots of travelling, but for me it is certainly been well worth it for the crazy events, kind people, and fascinating wildlife I have experienced along the way.
- Must be a U.S. citizen to apply.
- Salary for a GS 12/13 ranges from $71,012.00 to $109,781.00 / Per Year.
- Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) or equivalent degree, i.e., Veterinary Medical Doctor (VMD), obtained at a school or college of veterinary medicine accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA).
- Possession of a permanent, full, and unrestricted license to practice veterinary medicine in a State, District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or a territory of the United States that includes successful completion of the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) or its predecessors, the National Board Examination (NBE) and the Clinical Competency Test (CCT).
GS-12: To qualify for a GS-12 is listed below:
- Master’s degree in an area of specialization, including but not limited to, animal science, avian medicine, food safety, infectious diseases, veterinary clinical sciences, pathobiology, biomedical sciences, veterinary anatomy, veterinary preventive medicine, comparative biological sciences, epidemiology, veterinary parasitology, molecular veterinary biosciences, public health, microbiology, pathology, immunology, laboratory animal medicine, toxicology, wildlife, zoological animal medicine, or sciences related to the work of a veterinary medical officer position.
- Successful completion of two years of an internship, residency program, or fellowship training program in a discipline related to the position.
- Applicants must demonstrate at least one full year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-11 grade level in the Federal service.
Examples of specialized experience for the GS-12 grade level include:
- Implementing health monitoring and treatment programs for large herds of production livestock (cattle, sheep, and swine).
- Recording and analyzing health records in order to implement appropriate prevention and treatment programs.
- Working with animal care personnel and herd managers to appropriately train and educate on new practices relating to animal care.
GS-13: To qualify for the GS-13 are listed below:
- Ph.D. degree in an area of specialization, including but not limited to, animal science, avian medicine, food safety, infectious diseases, veterinary clinical sciences, pathobiology, biomedical sciences, veterinary anatomy, veterinary preventive medicine, comparative biological sciences, epidemiology, veterinary parasitology, molecular veterinary biosciences, public health, microbiology, pathology, immunology, laboratory animal medicine, toxicology, wildlife, zoological animal medicine, or sciences related to the work of a veterinary medical officer position.
- Successful completion of three years of an internship, residency program, or fellowship training program in a discipline related to the position.
Applicants must demonstrate at least one full year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-12 grade level in the Federal service. Specialized experience is experience directly related to the position to be filled.
Examples of specialized experience for the GS-13 grade level include:
- Interpreting and implementing the Federation of Animal Science Societies Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching in a research environment; or
- Experience following or implementing Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) policies and procedures as they relate to care of animals in research; or
- Experience as or working with an IACUC Attending Veterinarian to implement appropriate animal care in a research environment.
Medical Requirements: Individuals must be physically and mentally able to safely and efficiently perform the full range of duties of the position without creating hazards to themselves or others.
Veterinary Medical Officers who inspect or supervise inspection activities in privately owned slaughter houses and processing plants must meet specific medical standards
- Maintains up-to-date knowledge of field anesthesia techniques, ensures compliance with Animal Welfare Act requirements and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC) approved protocols.
- Strictly adheres to Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) rules and regulations for the use and storage of controlled substances.
- Assists in the development of the annual budget and work plans.
- Establishes and maintains liaison with research and management biologists from natural resource agencies, conservation organizations, and universities who have expertise specific to wildlife capture and anesthesia as well as wildlife diseases, their epidemiology, and management, to exchange information and develop techniques and methods related to population and habitat management, monitoring, and evaluation.
- Reviews scientific proposals and reports to evaluate hypotheses, research design, appropriateness of methods, probability of success, and overall importance to wildlife disease management or science.
- Analyzes disease report summaries and determines the impact on resources, develops action plans as required, coordinates actions with the Refuges and other Service regions as warranted.
- Fields questions concerning the report and response from various sources, representatives from other Federal and State agencies, and the media.
- Analyzes the impact of wildlife morbidity and mortality events on populations, and assists wildlife biologists and/or managers as needed to evaluate impacts to harvest regulations or other population goals.
- Prepares reports and articles for publication in scientific literature and for presentation at professional meetings.
- Provides oral and written presentations on significant wildlife health and disease issues ranging from highly technical professional audiences, to congressional and agency staffs, to news media, and the general public.
- Mastery of, and skill in applying, advanced concepts, principles, practices, and methodology of veterinary medicine.
- Professional knowledge of, and ability to apply, wildlife management concepts, principles, practices, including field techniques and methodologies, to manage an active complex, regional, wildlife management program.
- Knowledge of, and ability to apply, the principles, practices, techniques, and concepts of population ecology and wildlife biology as related to the management of free ranging wildlife populations.
- Familiarity with population-limiting factors based on habitat nutritional quality, climate change, predation and competition, or other demographic factors sufficient to incorporate into wildlife management plans.
- Ability to synthesize existing information, apply new scientific findings, developments, and advances to meet innovative, complex, controversial, long-term wildlife health and management needs that are national and international in scope.
- Ability to provide creativity and critical-thinking skills necessary to apply veterinary advances in approaches and new scientific developments to local resource issues, and determine cause-and-effect relationships between species, their habitats, and disease.
In our next article we will continue with the FWS and our Question and Answerwill be with Keith Toomey, Special Agent in Charge (GS-1811).
- Anita Noguera, Manager, BPHC Marketing Communications, Falls Church, VA
- Photos were provided by the Fish and Wildlife Service
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