As we arrived back in the study area last evening, a big-toothed aspen (Populus grandidentata) we had been watching turn color was not only in full rich gold color but the setting sun was giving it an extra glow. We took it as a good omen.
We’re still reeling from the good feelings of being among supportive people who love bears and wolves. What a great job they did in putting together an informative symposium with many speakers. It was a great time of networking by Bear Center staff with wolf biologists from around the world. What a change in attitude toward wolves since the old days. Instead of just trying to get rid of them through trapping and bounty hunting, many people are now appreciating them.
We remember decades ago when Dave Mech was saying that scientific publishing was not enough. For an animal that is limited by human attitudes, biologists have not gotten the ball over the goal line unless they have reached out to the public. Dave published books and articles that made wolves more than villains. He created a broad interest that led to the huge national wolf recovery effort and great appreciation of these intelligent, social animals. Today, people want to see wolves.
At the symposium banquet, Lynn sat next to a man who was leading an effort to bring economic gain to Thompson, Manitoba, by promoting wolf viewing. The same thing is being done in Finland. Other countries with wolves are showing similar interest. It’s kind of like the bear viewing industry that has developed for Churchill, Manitoba, with polar bears and in Katmai National Park, Alaska, with brown bears. And the animals benefit along with the communities who value them.
Today, one of Germany’s top wildlife photographers stopped by the Research Center after the Wolf Symposium. Living up to his reputation, he shortly captured a picture of a red squirrel (Tamasciurus hudsonicus) in mid-leap running toward him. Fantastic. He said we could use the picture in the new ecology exhibit.
The GPS-equipped bears are doing the same things they were doing before we left for the symposium.
Today was a day of recovering from the short sleep we got leading up to the symposium. We resumed work on peer-reviewed papers and continued our response to requests for information from the DNR as part of the legal proceedings.
We feel your support.
Thank you for all you do.
—Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield, Biologists, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center
All photos taken today unless otherwise noted.