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Wildlifers Help Develop a Center for Wolf Research and Education in Canada
The Wildlife Society conference attendees helped Spirit Way, Inc. — a community-based organization comprised of volunteers working to make Thompson, Manitoba the “Wolf Capital of the World” — in their mission to create a Wolf Center of Excellence.
“What would a Wolf Center of Excellence look like?” asked Alistair Bath, an associate professor in the department of geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland who has conducted numerous research projects focusing on human dimensions in wolf management issues and has also engaged with Spirit Way, Inc. to explore the creation of a Wolf Center of Excellence in Thompson.
The purpose of the brainstorming session, according to Bath, was twofold: to understand what a center targeted to wildlife conservation looks like and to define the biggest obstacles to achieving such a goal. Participants were split up into groups to answer the questions of what the center should do and shouldn’t do.
Participants agreed that the center should include education, research, distribution of information, and community engagement. They helped develop potential research projects that the center could conduct such as understanding how wolves interact with polar bears — a unique issue in the region — modeling ecosystem services that wolves provide, understanding how wolves use different biomes in terms of prey, learning people’s attitudes and beliefs about wolves, and research regarding coexistence with wolves and humans.
“This is just the beginning of the process,” Bath said. “You have really helped us out.” Volker Beckmann, the project coordinator for Spirit Way, Inc., added that attendees’ ideas would be taken into account as they developed the Center and that three to five years down the road, perhaps attendees will be invited to the grand opening of the Wolf Center of Excellence in Thompson, Manitoba.