The mission of the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology is to provide science-based research, instruction, and extension that supports forest and wildlife conservation and management in an ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable fashion.

The Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology had its origin in 1933 when the University of Wisconsin-Madison created a Chair in Game Management for Professor Aldo Leopold.  Six years later, Leopold formed the Department of Wildlife Management, the first academic department in the world dedicated to the emerging field of wildlife management.  Forestry research was conducted in several college programs and in 1959, the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management was created to organize forestry and wildlife research under one program.

In 1962, the college created separate Departments of Forestry and Wildlife Management.  A further change in 1967 created the Department of Wildlife Ecology, a name more in keeping with the Department's emphasis on the inter-relationships of animals and their physical environment.  In 1997, the department name was changed to the Department of Forest Ecology and Management.  The two departments were again combined in 2007 to form the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology.