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 over 400 members and are governed by a volunteer board and coordinated by an executive director.

Our Activities

Create and foster a collaborative wildlife community of students, scientists, managers, and enthusiasts

Promote application of robust science in wildlife and habitat-related decision making

Enhance and empower our membership through diverse services and student supports

Develop, maintain, and model organizational efficiency

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.

Our Achievements

31 CONFERENCES

for wildlife professionals and students

30+ YEARS

of advocating for science in wildlife management

$167K

of scholarships, travel grants, and student presentation awards given

14 CAMPAIGNS

campaigns on wildlife issues with success in military base elk management, wetland policy, coal mining applications, CWD testing, Federal Fisheries Act, and park designations

59% INCREASE

increase in membership since 2014 to over 425 active members

2019

TWS Chapter of the Year

Executive

Sarah Elmeligi

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Nicole Heim

PresidenT

John Paczkowski

PRESIDENT-ELECT

Erin Miller

Secretary-Treasurer

Alex Beatty

PAST-PresidenT

Jordan York

Director

Phil Walker

Student Director

Margo Pybus

Historian

Mark Boyce

Conservation Committee Chair

Kristie Derkson

Education & Information

Alina Fisher

education & information

Ashley Shaw

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee Co-Chair

Jenny Foca

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee Co-Chair

Volunteer Committees

So much of our work is addressed and accomplished with the help of dedicated members who volunteer their time and expertise to meet our mission. Our active committees are:

  • Conservation Affairs
  • Education and Information
  • Membership
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

 

Learn more about them on our Volunteer Committees page.

ACTWS Speakers Bureau

Do you need a speaker for an upcoming event? Do you have questions about a particular wildlife topic? The ACTWS has compiled a list of members that are willing to share their expertise. Search the database for your area of interest and connect directly with a wildlife professional. If you are an ACTWS member and would like to sign up to be a resource, please sign up in the Members’ Area.

First NameLast NameCityDisciplineAreas of ExpertiseWebsiteEmail
Lisa
Wilkinson
Edson
wildlife
Bats, Alberta species at risk, wildlife ecology and conservation
Mark
Boyce
Edmonton
wildlife
Population ecology and conservation. Most research has been on large mammals but also on furbearers and birds. Recent research has included work on grizzly bears, black bears, Greater Sage-Grouse, waterfowl nest predation, sitatunga in Uganda, cougars, bighorn sheep, caribou, and elk. My current work is focused on grasslands in Canada and the best way to manage these lands for biodiversity, while maximizing carbon sequestration and storage.
https://grad.biology.ualberta.ca/boyce/
John
Wilmshurst
Jasper
wildlife
Wildlife conservation, grazing dynamics, protected areas management
margo
pybus
Ardrossan
wildlife
Integrating wildlife diseases & parasites into wildlife management decisions, policies, programs, and activities. Natural history of many things wild.
https://www.alberta.ca/wildlife-diseases-in-alberta.aspx
Aerin
Jacob
Canmore
wildlife
landscape ecology, conservation biology, conservation and land-use planning, ecosystem services, human-wildlife conflict, species-at-risk, Yellowstone to Yukon region
www.y2y.net

Sarah Elmeligi

Executive Director

Sarah Elmeligi, PhD, has been passionate about conserving Alberta’s wildlife and wild landscapes since she was a child exploring Banff National Park with her parents. From her undergraduate degree in Zoology from the University of Alberta to her graduate work, she has focused on large mammal behaviour, landscape ecology, and wildlife conservation. Her Masters research at the University of Northern British Columbia used an interdisciplinary approach to understand the impacts of tourism on grizzly bear behaviour and visitor tour satisfaction in the Khutzeymateen Conservancy of northwest BC.

Studying at Central Queensland University, her PhD applied a similar approach, integrating biological and social data to understand grizzly bear habitat selection around human use trails and visitor expectations of management in Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Yoho National Parks. Sarah believes that most wildlife management is really about managing people. Throughout her work, she has worked closely with communities, stakeholders, First Nations Governments, and park visitors. Her work with grizzly bears and large landscapes has influenced land management in Alberta and BC for more than a decade. She also has experience working with local environmental non-profit organizations (CPAWS Southern Alberta, Y2Y, Prairie Conservation Forum) to influence the creation of new protected areas, improve land management, and to effectively engage communities in conservation. Sarah has also worked for Alberta Parks as a Planner designing facility plans to improve the ecological integrity of Kananaskis Protected Areas while creating high-quality recreation opportunities.

Sarah examines landscapes holistically, aiming to create management recommendations that balance biological, social, and cultural needs. Her career as an ecologist has been punctuated with extended trips exploring ecosystems in Europe, Australia, Central America, and North America but her heart has always been in Alberta. She believes in the inherent value of Alberta’s wilderness and focuses her career towards ensuring human practices are sustainable and in balance with the needs of wildlife and ecosystems. In addition to being your Executive Director, she is completing her first book entitled What Bears Teach Us, and owns Sarah E Consulting out of Canmore.

Nicole Heim

President-Elect

Nicole Heim is a Wildlife Ecologist with a special interest in understanding population dynamics of medium to large sized carnivores throughout western Canada and north-western United States. Her experience working with large ranging species increased her interest and expertise in the principles of road ecology and the importance of landscape connectivity. Nicole completed her M.Sc. in Environmental Studies examining the cumulative impacts of natural and anthropogenic landscape factors driving the spatial distribution of wolverine and co-occurring carnivores found in the central Rocky Mountain region of Alberta. Over the past decade, Nicole has concentrated her efforts in parks and protected areas and adjacent lands. She has worked as a Park Ecologist for Alberta Parks within the Kananaskis Region and currently continues to apply her understanding of carnivore behaviour as a Wildlife Conflict Specialist in Banff National Park. Nicole is dedicated to conservation management and aims to find creative solutions that support human-wildlife co-existence and sustainable land-use. Nicole resides in Canmore, Alberta and spends her recreational time hiking, skiing, climbing, and improving on her skills in nature photography.

John Paczkowski

President-Elect

John is a biologist who has concentrated his career on wildlife research and conservation, mainly with large carnivores.  Originally from Ontario, he obtained an Honours Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation and Bachelor of Natural Science from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. Moving to Alberta in the early 1990’s John was part of the Central Rockies Wolf Project, Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project as well as numerous other terrestrial and aquatic wildlife research projects. He obtained his MSc. From the University of Northern British Columbia, focussing on remote sensing of grizzly bear habitat.  John and his family then moved to the Russian far east, contributing to conservation efforts for Kamchatka brown bear and later Amur tigers with the Wildlife Conservation Society. As an ecologist with Alberta Environment and Parks, based in Canmore, John uses wildlife research as a lens to inform decisions on the protection and management of Alberta parks and adjacent lands.  John works with a small army of dedicated and well organized volunteers  or citizen ecologists who contribute by collecting data on wildlife and human use in Kananaskis Country. He welcomes collaboration with other scientists, students and the public.

Erin Miller

Secretary-Treasurer

Erin Miller is an MSc. Student at the University of Alberta. Her current research involves using telemetry to examine polar bear movement and human-bear conflict in western Hudson Bay. She obtained her Honours Bachelor’s degree in Ecology at the University of Calgary which included the completion of her thesis examining habitat selection of artificial roosts by urban Alberta bats. This project required the use of citizen science and highlighted for Erin the active role the public could play in wildlife research when given the opportunity. As an advocate for public engagement in wildlife conservation, she has devoted time to speak at primary schools as well as working with organizations such as Scouts Canada and Operation Wallacea to promote youth interest in ecological research. She hopes to continue researching solutions for human-wildlife conflict in her future career by emphasizing public awareness and engagement.

Alex Beatty

Past-President

Alex Beatty completed her B.Sc. with a specialization in animal biology and her M.Sc. in ecology at the University of Alberta. Her research focused on terrestrial polar bear ecology in western Hudson Bay. She has been fortunate to conduct field research throughout the world, including: Churchill, Manitoba; Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan; and Svalbard, Norway. Alex has shared her knowledge and enthusiasm for wildlife working with Alberta Environment and Parks, the Calgary Zoo, John Janzen Nature Centre, and Edmonton Valley Zoo. In addition to serving ACTWS as Secretary-Treasurer before stepping into the President role, Alex has also been involved with The Wildlife Society in other capacities. She served on the Annual Conference Networks and Engagement Committee for TWS, acted as chair of the Student Development Working Group International Committee, and participated as an executive member for the University of Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society for several years. Alex spends her recreational time camping, fishing, hunting, and exploring nature with her two dogs.

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

Fauve Blanchard

Director

A born and raised Albertan, Fauve Blanchard’s love and interest in wildlife stemmed from a very young age. Her experience started with counting deer from the car window as a child to weekly collecting coyote scat at a dog park in university for an urban coyote study, where she got confused looks from dog walkers as she picked up “dog” poop in a dog park, without a dog, and with rubber gloves and Ziploc bags. Fauve dispersed remote cameras throughout the Fort McMurray river valleys on a wildlife connectivity study, volunteered with rescued elephants and monkeys at a Thailand wildlife rehabilitation center, set up cameras at wolf dens to count litter sizes and live trapped squirrels at the famous Yukon squirrel camp. More recent endeavours have included: improving wildlife modelling tools used in Alberta’s forest management planning, surveying red-sided garter snakes, western grebes and sharp-tailed grouse and acting as co-chair on the Alberta BearSmart Committee. She has gained experience working in the industry sector as an Ecologist for Devon Energy and is currently employed as an Area Wildlife Biologist with the Alberta government out of Whitecourt.

Outside of work, she loves to canoe, fish and hunt and especially enjoys travelling to where she can truly witness Earth’s awe-inspiring wildlife diversity. She’s currently the Treasurer of her local AUPE chapter and the Secretary of the Whitecourt Search and Rescue Society, and has successfully organized fundraisers and workshops in the past. Since joining ACTWS in 2014, Fauve has been thrilled to be a part of this chapter and through continued involvement in the ACTWS, she hopes to continue to support the sustainability of wildlife populations and their habitat through the application of up-to-date science and management tools.

Jordan York

Director
Jordan holds an MES focused on Northern Environments and Cultures and a BEd focused on intermediate/senior level instruction, both from Lakehead University.  Jordan developed interests in wildlife research and management pulled him from teaching in Ontario public schools to Alberta in 2017, where he worked as a wildlife technician for Alberta Environment and Parks.  He is currently employed as an Environment Coordinator with the Metis Nation of Alberta. As a Metis citizen and harvester, Jordan has always been interested in wildlife management and conservation, especially regarding harvested species.  He advocates for wildlife management decisions to be based on sound scientific practices, especially those which consider both Western and Indigenous science perspectives.  Outside of work, Jordan can often be found outdoors hunting, fishing, camping or hiking with his golden retriever, Ellie.  He’s a member of Lesser Slave Lake Search and Rescue and he also serves on their training team.

Chuck Priestley

Director

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.

Kristie Derkson

Education & Information Committee

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.

Ashley Shaw

EDI Committee Co-chair
Greetings! My name is Ashley (she/her), I am a daughter from an inter-religous marriage and a first generation POC. Currently, I am a regional consultant for the Métis Nation of Alberta and co-chair of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion board for the ACTWS. I’ve received a Bachelor’s from MacEwan University and a Master’s from the University of Saskatchewan. I’ve traveled to the Amazon Rainforest to study jungle ecology and wildlife. Additionally, I’ve spent too many hours in the lab analyzing parasitic effects in invertebrates. Soon, I hope to publish on the usage of GIS to depict Indigenous Knowledge and I am also working on a podcast to highlight the realities faced by first generation individuals within Canada. In the near future, I hope to gain a PhD in Indigenous relations and a certification in international affairs. Thank you!

Jenny Foca

EDI Committee Co-chair
Jenny Foca is an MSc student at the University of Alberta. Her current research involves using trail cameras to estimate densities and model space use for five ungulate species in Elk Island National Park and Cooking Lake – Blackfoot PRA. Her research interests include population ecology, spatial ecology, and interspecific interactions. Jenny completed her BSc degree in Animal Science with a minor in Biology at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, California. She then worked for California State Parks for 3 years before moving to Alberta to pursue her MSc. Jenny also serves as the treasurer for the University of Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society and is a board member of the Friends of Elk Island Society.

PO BOX 4990
Edmonton AB
T6E 5G8

Professional refers to someone who works with wildlife and/or their habitats in a professional setting.

In this context, it is not in reference to a legal professional designation.

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