Dr. Kirkpatrick grew up in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania and earned the Ph. D. in reproductive physiology from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in 1971. For 23 years he taught physiology at Montana State University-Billings and for seven of those years he served as Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. Along the way of this career Dr. Kirkpatrick worked as a ranger for the National Park Service for seven years, in Rocky Mountain National Park, was a senior scientist for Deaconess Research Institute, and carried out post-doctoral studies at the veterinary schools at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California at Davis, and at the Center for Reproduction in Endangered Species at the San Diego Zoo. He also held an academic appointment as adjunct associate professor in the Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California at Davis from 1992 to 2005, and is currently the Director of the Science and Conservation Center at ZooMontana, in Billings. Dr. Kirkpatrick has served on the National Animal Damage Control Advisory Committee for the Secretary of Agriculture. He is a member of the Contraceptive Advisory Group for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and has served on the Montana Wolf Management Council.
For the past 39 years Dr. Kirkpatrick has carried out research on fertility control for wild horses and other wildlife, for the purpose of developing non-lethal and humane methods of controlling wildlife populations, and on non-capture methods for studying reproduction in free-ranging wildlife species through the use of urinary and fecal steroid hormones. His work has included wild horses, African elephants, white-tailed deer, water buffalo, bison, elk and more than 85 species of captive exotic animals in zoos. Dr. Kirkpatrick is probably best known for his contraceptive research with the wild horses of Assateague Island, for the study of reproduction in the bison of Yellowstone National Park, and more recently for African elephant contraception in the Republic of South Africa.