Who We Are & What We Do

About Us

Our Mission

To inspire and empower wildlife professionals to engage in science-based management and conservation of wild animals and their habitats.

Our Members

Wildlife biology professionals, scientists, academics, students, communicators and citizen advocates throughout Alberta and western Canada.

Our Organization

We are a non-profit Chapter of the US-based The Wildlife Society. We have about 300 members and are governed by a volunteer board and coordinated by an executive director.

Our Activities

We update our members on wildlife and habitat management​

We inform and assist government on a variety of wildlife management issues

We provide professional development opportunities to members

The key role of the ACTWS is to foster a professional culture among wildlife biologists that promotes science-based management and conservation of wildlife throughout Alberta.

Dr. Andrea Morehouse, ACTWS President

Our Achievements

29 CONFERENCES

for wildlife professionals and students

30 YEARS

of advocating for science in wildlife management

$156K

of scholarships, travel grants, and student presentation awards given

12 CAMPAIGNS

on wildlife issues with success in military base elk management, wetland policy, CWD testing, and the Federal Fisheries Act

8x INCREASE

in membership since establishment - to 400 active members

2019

TWS Chapter of the Year

Executive

John Wilmshurst

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Alex Beatty

President-elect

Alyssa Bohart

Secretary-Treasurer

Everett Hanna

Past-President

Cindy Kemper

Director

Nikki Paksar

Student Director

Margo Pybus

Historian

Mark Boyce

Conservation Committee Chair

Kristie Derkson

Education & Information

Alina Fisher

education & information

John Wilmshurst

Executive Director

John discovered nature as a kid, ecology as an undergraduate, science as a graduate student and communications as a government biologist and manager. His endless curiosity in the natural world and the ways we try to understand it, as well as life-long interest in protecting wilderness brings him to the ACTWS.

He joins the ACTWS following an 18-year career as a government biologist and manager. A graduate of the wildlife program at the University of Guelph, John has studied and worked across Canada, in Africa, Mexico and Europe.

Emerging from graduate school, where he studied large herbivore / grassland dynamics, he set about to apply what he had learned in a post doctoral position with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada in Lethbridge. A move to Winnipeg to become an ecologist for Parks Canada gave him the opportunity to lead research and monitoring programs across the prairies. During this time, he contributed to the establishment of Parks Canada’s national ecological monitoring and ecological restoration programs.

John moved to the Rockies in 2008 to take the new science manager position in Jasper National Park. Working with biologists and communicators in Jasper, he helped implement mountain caribou protection measures, consultation programs and public outreach initiatives. In time his responsibilities expanded to include managing a more diverse team of human-wildlife conflict, search and rescue, emergency dispatch and GIS specialists.

Since finishing his career with Parks Canada, John has worked briefly for the BC government, and embarked on a career as a private consultant, science writer, editor and proofreader. He is also an adjunct professor of Geography and Planning at the University of Saskatchewan.

John is honoured to take on the responsibilities of the Executive Director role of the ACTWS and is excited to work with the Executive and membership to advance its goals and values.

Andrea Morehouse

President
Andrea Morehouse is an independent scientist who works on a variety of conservation and management issues related to large carnivores in a multi-use landscape.  Her research interests are in conservation biology, population ecology, and human-wildlife conflicts.  She obtained a B.Sc. degree in biology from Tufts University, and worked on various wildlife projects across North America before moving to Alberta in 2007 to pursue a graduate degree.  Andrea completed her M.Sc. and Ph.D. research and subsequent postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta, studying large carnivore conflicts with agricultural land uses and grizzly bear population ecology in southwestern Alberta.  Through her research, she strives to effectively engage scientists, managers, and community members to develop and implement scientifically sound and socially workable wildlife conservation strategies.   Andrea also serves on the board of directors for the Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association and is a 2017 Wilburforce Fellow in Conservation Science.

Alex Beatty

President-Elect

Alex Beatty is currently a MSc. student at the University of Alberta studying polar bear ecology in western Hudson Bay. She holds a BSc. with a Specialization in Animal Biology from the University of Alberta. Alex has shared her knowledge and enthusiasm for science and wildlife through her various volunteer positions, and as an educator and interpreter with Alberta Parks, the John Janzen Nature Centre, and the Edmonton Valley Zoo. While conducting research in Alberta, Alex has been able to help aspiring wildlife biologist undergraduate students as an executive for the University of Alberta Chapter of the Wildlife Society. Alex hopes to continue engaging and inspiring science students in the future.

Alyssa Bohart

Secretary-Treasurer

Alyssa is currently studying polar bear movement ecology for her MSc at the University of Alberta. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Honors Animal Biology at the University of Alberta. Her honors thesis examined prey selection of wolves and coyotes in Ya Ha Tinda. Outside of her education, Alyssa has dedicated her time to several organizations including Beaverhill Bird Observatory, Nature Alberta’s Nature Kids and Polar Bears International, where she has conducted field work and wildlife outreach. As an aspiring wildlife biologist she hopes to continue researching conservation issues as well as share her passion for wildlife conservation and public engagement

Everett Hanna

Past-President

Dr. Everett Hanna completed his MSc/PhD research with Long Point Waterfowl and Western University, studying the foraging and staging ecology of Eastern Population Greater Sandhill Cranes, collecting the first provincial population estimate for the previously extirpated species. Everett has also earned a diploma as a Fish and Wildlife Technician (Fleming College), an advanced diploma in Fish and Wildlife Technology (Fleming College), and an HBSc in Biology (Trent University) where he studied the incubation rhythms of Mallards and Northern Pintails nesting in southern Alberta with Ducks Unlimited Canada. Beyond academia, Everett has worked across North America in capacities ranging from field technician to data analyst to senior wildlife biologist for provincial/state entities, non-profit organizations, and consulting firms. Everett has a passion for post-secondary education, having taught courses in fish and wildlife ecology and management at Western University, Fleming College, and, in his current role with the Natural Resources Technology Program at Portage College in Lac La Biche, AB. At Portage, Everett strives to design unique, applied learning opportunities for his students with the goal of collecting biological data to support current conservation and management initiatives. Everett is a Certified Wildlife Biologist® (CWB) with TWS and a Registered Professional Biologist (RPBio) with the BC College of Applied Biology.

Cindy Kemper

Director

Cindy Kemper completed her MSc. research on raptor electrocution mortality on power lines at the University of Alberta in 2005. After a brief position dipping her feet into the provincial Fish and Wildlife Species at Risk program, she spent several months travelling the lesser-known corners of Australia and New Zealand. While there, she assisted on several wildlife conservation programs, including those studying crested terns, barking owls, powerful owls and southern hairy-nosed wombats. After returning home, she accepted a half-time position as a Species at Risk biologist with the Alberta Environment and Parks, in the Fish and Wildlife Branch, where she still is today. During the other half of her time, Cindy owns Bird on a Wire Environmental Services, Inc., providing client support to electric utilities and other power line operators to reduce avian-caused power outages and associated mortality on power lines (primarily from electrocution, collision, and nesting). While wearing these two hats, she also accumulated 14 years’ experience working part time as a wildlife rehabilitator in Edmonton. Cindy travels whenever she can, incorporating volunteering and exploring nature at every opportunity. In her spare time, Cindy enjoys camping, hiking, birdwatching, gardening, running, yoga, and just about any fitness activity. She prides herself on finding misadventure anywhere and everywhere, and proudly wears nerdy cartoon t-shirts of her favorite birds (ferruginous hawks, western grebes). Cindy has been a professional biologist in good standing with the Alberta Society of Professional Biologist since 2008, and joined the ACTWS executive in March 2018.

Jessica Melsted

Director

Jessica recently completed her BSc. in Environmental and Conservation Sciences from the University of Alberta and is a new addition to the STRIX Ecological Consulting team. Her interest in wildlife first drew her to Lethbridge College where she completed the Renewable Resource Management diploma and Fish and Wildlife Technology certificate programs. From her college experience and working in wetlands and riparian areas with Cows & Fish, she gained a strong interest in waterfowl. This led her to enthusiastically working on a northern pintail banding project with the Canadian Wildlife Service as well as a duck nesting study with the University of Alberta. She has also volunteered for a number of wildlife organizations and projects, ranging from improving habitat for pronghorn to collecting camera trap data.

Jessica has been involved with The Wildlife Society in a variety of ways the last several years, primarily being involved with both the Lethbridge College and University of Alberta Student Chapters. In addition to her director role, she has also joined the ACTWS newsletter committee, and last year she acted as the student representative for the Canadian Section’s Certification Committee. In her spare time (when she’s not searching for ducks) she enjoys hiking, hunting, camping, birdwatching, photography, and knitting.

Nikki Paksar

Student Director

Nikki is currently finishing her BSc in Environmental and Conservation Sciences from the University of Alberta with a specialization in Conservation Biology. She has been enthralled with the natural world since childhood, and has continued to nurture and shape that passion into a career path. Throughout her undergrad experience, Nikki has worked for a variety of organizations including the Kluane Red Squirrel Project, the Beaverhill Bird Observatory, the Edmonton and Area Land Trust, and several research labs. She spends much of her time volunteering with non-profit and research projects, and sits on the CPAWS Northern Alberta Chapter Conservation Committee and the EALT Youth Committee. As the former President of the U of A Chapter of The Wildlife Society for three consecutive years, she is eager to use her experience and connections to engage and support students in the Alberta Chapter. When she’s not volunteering, she’s hiking with her two duck tollers, learning calligraphy and fiddle tunes, or riding horses. As an aspiring environmental professional, Nikki hopes to pursue her masters in wildlife biology in the near future.

Margo Pybus

Historian

Dr. Margo Pybus spent the better part of a life-time learning from wildlife.  She was schooled early in life among the fields, forests, and marshes of southern Ontario and later in the prairie, foothill, mountain, parkland, and boreal landscapes of Alberta and beyond..

Margo received a B.Sc. in Fish and Wildlife Biology and M.Sc. in Wildlife Parasitology, both from the University of Guelph.  She holds a PhD in Wildlife Parasitology from the University of Alberta and is currently an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, UofA.  Margo is on staff with Alberta Fish and Wildlife as the first Provincial Wildlife Disease Specialist. She leads high profile provincial wildlife disease surveillance and management programs, including chronic wasting disease, West Nile virus, avian influenza, and rabies.

Alberta TWS member since the Chapter founding in 1989. Former Chapter newsletter editor, President, student mentor, Dedicated Service and Rowan Distinguished Service award recipient, and ongoing reference/repository for many things chapter-related.

Mark Boyce

Conservation Affairs Committee Chair

Mark is Professor of Ecology and Alberta Conservation Association Chair in Fisheries and Wildlife at the University of Alberta.  He strives to ensure that sound science is used to inform wildlife management decisions, and supervises students working on population ecology, habitat selection, and conservation.  He has served as President of the ACTWS and is a Certified Wildlife Biologist and a Fellow of both The Wildlife Society and the Royal Society of Canada.

Alina Fisher

Education & Information Committee Chair

Born in Romania, Alina’s early childhood memories revolve around feeding wildlife, exploring forests & beaches, and bringing home any wild animal she could find. This included snakes, frogs, mice, birds, & polecats – much to her mother’s chagrin. Her love of the natural world led Alina to study population and community ecology in diverse ecosystems including: yucca-yucca moth pollination system, mycorrhizal fungi associated with Jack Pine, the impact of escaped farmed Atlantic Salmon in Pacific coastal streams, and species recovery efforts of the Western Bluebird to Vancouver Island. 

As a science communicator, the prevalence of pseudo-science and fake science on social media led Alina to undertake a Masters degree in Communications, to study the barriers to effective science communication. Alina expects to complete her research by mid-2017.

Lalenia Neufeld

Webmaster

Layla is a caribou biologist with Parks Canada in Jasper National Park, and has been the ACTWS webmaster since 2007.  Layla grew up in rural Alberta adjacent to Alberta’s green zone (without a lot of neighbours, but with a lot of sticks, rocks, and wildlife). She received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. at the University of Alberta, and is a former president of the University of Alberta Chapter of the Wildlife Society.  Layla’s M.Sc. thesis examined dynamics of Little Smoky caribou and wolves in west-central Alberta. Her work with Parks Canada takes her to picturesque locations throughout Canada’s National Parks and she’s a key member of the caribou research, monitoring, and recovery team in the Canadian Rockies National Parks. Layla enjoys hiking, biking, music, travel, biology, and loves the outdoors;  she is looking forward to re-exploring favourite places with her two young children in coming years.

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