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

Sarah Elmeligi

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Alex Beatty

PresidenT

Nicole Heim

President-Elect

Alyssa Bohart

Secretary-Treasurer

Andrea Morehouse

Past-President

Jenny Foca

Student Director

Margo Pybus

Historian

Mark Boyce

Conservation Committee Chair

Kristie Derkson

Education & Information

Alina Fisher

education & information

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
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
Matt
Besko
Edmonton
wildlife, forestry
Wildlife Allocation and Use, Hunting, Management of Game species, forest wildlife ecology; public speaking, human cultural dimensions of wildlife management; Government Policy and Wildlife Management, historical ecology and use of natural foods, Biologist Humour, Cooking game and preparing/eating Wild Foods from around the world. Mostly eating. I’m an expert at eating.
Just Google: ‘Matt Besko Alberta’

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.

Alex Beatty

President

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.

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.

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

Andrea Morehouse

Past-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.

Dragomir Vujnovic

President

Dragomir Vujnovic is a Park Zoologist and Conservation Biologist for Alberta Parks for over 20 years and before that in the national parks in Croatia. He is involved with creating best conservation practices for protecting and managing biodiversity, species at risk and habitat within lands managed by Alberta Parks. He believes that the most important part in protecting biodiversity is maintenance, protection and conservation of native habitats, there is no healthy wildlife population without a healthy habitat to support it. For long time the non-motorized recreation was considered as non-impact activate on environment, however recent research has proven that any kind of human recreation can have a short or long term negative effects on the wildlife. Therefore, he is working hard to implement and apply management and conservation practices that will assure as little as possible negative effects on wildlife and its habitat in protected areas while planning for all the recreational uses and development associated with recreational uses. This is one of the key roles of the Alberta protected areas in maintaining, protecting and recovering wildlife species. He is especially passionate about protecting native birds and their habitats and devotes considerable amount of his work as well as off-work time doing bird surveying, birdwatching and more and more doing bird photography.

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.

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.

Chuck Priestley

Director

Jenny Foca

Student Director

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. 

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.

PO BOX 4990
Edmonton AB
T6E 5G8

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