elk capture

Senior Veterinary Student Externship in Wildlife Medicine

The California Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center offer a four-to-six-week externship in Wildlife Medicine to senior veterinary students.

What is involved with this externship?
You will work side-by-side with CDFW and WHC leading wildlife veterinarians and pathologists. You will rotate primarily between CDFW's Wildlife Investigations Lab (WIL) in Rancho Cordova and CDFW's Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center in Santa Cruz, with variable time spent at the WHC participating in ongoing field research projects and/or oil spill response. Additional opportunities may be available at local partners of the WHC (such as wildlife rehabilitation centers).

What is the focus of this externship?
This externship is focused solely on free-ranging wildlife health (veterinary medicine, research, and biology), with a particular emphasis on those activities undertaken by State and university wildlife veterinarians  As such, students interested more in the zoo/aquarium fields are encouraged to explore other opportunities.

What kind of experiences will I find in this externship?
Depending upon ongoing activities at the various facilities, you can expect to gain practical experience in wildlife immobilization and transport, captive care, and disease investigation and management. You will have the opportunity to work with a variety of species, such as hoofstock, carnivores, marine mammals and seabirds.

Will I do any research during the externship?
Externs are strongly encouraged to complete a research or laboratory project during the externship under the mentorship of a CDFW wildlife veterinarian.

What is the ideal participation window?
The best time to participate in wildlife capture opportunities is between October and February. 

Who covers the costs of participating?
You will be responsible for all expenses and for obtaining housing during the externship. You will also be responsible for your own transportation. Some supplemental funds may be available to assist in accommodations during field captures.

What are the application requirements?
Please submit a letter of intent, a curriculum vitae, and two letters of reference. Letters should be from individuals who know you well and can speak to your experience, personality, and future capacity to/interest in being successful as a free-ranging wildlife veterinarian.

How many externs are selected yearly?
Typically, 2-4 students (out of 30-40 applications) are selected yearly.

When is my application due?
Applications are due September 1 of a student's third year (for placement in an externship in the student's fourth year). Please submit a letter of intent, a curriculum vitae and 2 letters of reference to Dr. Michael Ziccardi or by mail to the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616. If you have any questions or concerns, please email Dr. Jamie Sherman.

Previous Wildlife Health Veterinary Externs: 

  • Lynae Shubin
  • Kristen Tobin
  • Logan Weyand