Who We Are & What We Do

About Us

In 1988, the Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society emerged with a vision to foster collaboration and excellence in wildlife science and management within the province. The founding committee, comprised of passionate individuals dedicated to advancing the understanding and conservation of Alberta’s wildlife, played a pivotal role in shaping the foundation of the chapter.

The founding committee members included: Morley Barrett, Mike Dorrance, Bill Glasgow, and Bill Samuel.

These visionaries shared a commitment to the principles of wildlife conservation and recognized the need for a dedicated platform that would bring together professionals, researchers, and enthusiasts in the field. Their collective efforts laid the groundwork for an organization that would serve as a hub for knowledge exchange and research collaboration for the protection of Alberta’s diverse wildlife.

Their initiative paved the way for the establishment of a dynamic chapter that continues to thrive today. The Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society remains steadfast in its mission to promote the stewardship of wildlife and their habitats through science-based approaches, building upon the legacy set forth by the dedicated individuals who founded it in 1988. 

Learn more about the ACTWS history here

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

32 CONFERENCES

for wildlife professionals and students

30+ YEARS and >400 MEMBERS

advocating for science in wildlife management across Alberta

$175K+

of scholarships, travel grants, and student presentation awards given

20+ CAMPAIGNS

on wildlife and habitat issues from coal mining to species at risk management. Success in wetland policy, CWD testing, forestry planning, caribou recovery, and more

TWS LEADER

in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

2019

TWS Chapter of the Year

Executive

Shantel Carels

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Sarah Hatt

President

Stan Boutin

President-elect

Samantha Stamler

Secretary-Treasurer

John Paczkowski

PAST-PRESIDENT

Robb Stavne

Director

Corey Scobie

Director

Remington Bracher

Student Director & Education and Information

Mark Boyce

Conservation Committee Chair

Ednna Stobschinski

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee Co-Chair

Margo Pybus

Historian

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

Provide a database of qualified scientists and managers to speak at an array of events and to groups of all ages. Please see our Speakers Bureau below to find a speaker perfect for your event. If you’re an expert, please sign up for our Bureau in the Members’ Area

First NameLast NameCityDisciplineAreas of ExpertiseWebsiteEmail
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
Canmore
Wildlife
parks and protected areas, large carnivore ecology, interdisciplinary research
www.saraheconsulting.com

Shantel Carels

Executive Director

Shantel is a professional biologist with over ten years of wildlife research experience. Shantel holds a Masters in Ecology from the University of Alberta and a Bachelor of Science degree from Dalhousie University. Shantel has work experience as a consultant, report writer and science communicator, data analyst, and GIS technician. 

Sarah Hatt

President-Elect
As an aspiring wildlife biologist, Sarah is currently a second year undergraduate student at Lethbridge College. With an extensive background in administration, client relations, and working with non-profit organizations, she is experienced with fundraising, event planning, and public relations. Outside of academics, Sarah spends much of her time volunteering with numerous organizations including Helen Schuler Nature Centre, and Ducks Unlimited Canada, where she conducts field work and delivers public programming. She strives to share her passion for the outdoors and wildlife with others. Sarah also has vast experience serving on committees and board of director roles; within TWS she is currently the Lethbridge College Chapters Vice President and has been elected to be next years President, she is the student representative on the CSTWS membership committee, has previously met with the ACTWS membership committee to provide a students perspective, and is an active member of the Student Development Working Group (SDWG). If full time studies and endless volunteering wasn’t enough, she also works as an Ecology Student with Matrix Solutions Inc., is a mom of two very active children, and is an avid runner herself.

Stan Boutin

President-Elect

Stan Boutin is currently Professor Emeritus in the University of Alberta’s Department of Biological Sciences. He grew up north of Edmonton and went to school at University of Alberta (BSc) and UBC (MSc and PhD). Stan was formerly Science Co-Director of the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, President and Science Co-Lead for the Canadian Mountain Network, Alberta Biodiversity Conservation Chair, and NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Integrated Landscape Management. Stan’s applied research is designed to allow stakeholders to make ecologically informed land-use decisions and he has worked closely with the forestry and energy sectors in Alberta. He became involved in the study and conservation of woodland caribou in the mid nineties. Other research interests include snowshoe hare-lynx cycles and red squirrel ecology, energetics, and evolution. Stan has tortured many great graduate students along the way. Despite this, he and his students have been awarded The Wildlife Society Publication of the Year in Wildlife, Ecology and Management three times. Stan was also fortunate enough to be awarded the William Rowan Distinguished Service Award from ACTWS and he has the belt buckle to prove it.

Samantha Stamler

Secretary-Treasurer
Samantha has an advanced diploma from Fleming College; specializing in biotechnology forensic science. She is currently a Wildlife Disease Technician with Alberta Environment and Parks and contributes to wildlife disease surveillance, monitoring, and management in Alberta, including; chronic wasting disease, avian influenza, and others. Samantha has experience in a variety of field work endeavours which spans throughout Alberta, including Jasper National Park, and her work is noted as a contributing author on two publications. Samantha has a deep-rooted love for the outdoors that stems from childhood summers spent with family; camping and canoeing around southern Ontario. She has nurtured that passion into a career and interest in conservation ever since. In her off time, she enjoys back country camping, hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding, yoga, music, travel and 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.

Emily Herdman

Director
Dr. Emily Herdman is currently a researcher at InnoTech Alberta working on a variety of programs involving biological monitoring. Prior to her current role, she was the Science Director for the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute and worked for Alberta Environment and Parks in a variety of roles. Emily is passionate about ecological research, monitoring, management and policy. Her experience leading staff has motivated her to provide mentorship to those entering the field and looking to make a difference. While she has a diverse background in wildlife biology, she has always worked best with cranky or smelly animals including delightful species like marten and Turkey Vultures.

Courtney Hughes

Director

Courtney has dedicated her career to conservation, in both Alberta and internationally, with a focus on community-based approaches to coexisting with wildlife, educational outreach, citizen science, policy-making and planning.  Originally from northern Ontario, Courtney obtained a Concurrent Bachelor degree in Natural science and Science Education from Lakehead University, and taught elementary and secondary science and environmental education in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She was also an Instructor and Director of Superior Science, a non-profit children’s science, engineering and technology camp, working in schools and Indigenous communities across the north. She then completed her Master’s degree at Lakehead in Environmental Education, with research in Namibia at the Cheetah Conservation Fund. Courtney then moved to Alberta to begin her career with the government, working in the environmental education and policy sections, and at the same time started her PhD in Conservation Biology at the University of Alberta. She also voluntarily worked over five years in Belize, with the Ministry of Education, to revise and implement the national primary school science curriculum and related teacher professional development. Courtney completed her PhD research on the social influences of grizzly bear conservation in Alberta in 2018, and since then has worked in the Landscape, Ecosystems and Conservation section in government, on wildlife, landscape, and parks planning, policy, and conservation projects, all of which include community-based collaboration and outreach. Some of her recent work includes a recreation ecology project, using cameras and other user-created data to quantify human use and wildlife impacts on recreational trails around Grande Cache, Alberta. Courtney has also taught a conservation social science and education module for Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation and Research Unit over the past decade, and through this she has developed friendships and projects in other countries, including in Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Courtney is a founding board member of the Tanzania Research and Conservation Organization, co-leading applied research and community engagement on pangolin conservation, and is leading a Rotary Club partnership project on addressing human health and wellbeing. Courtney is also a research advisor for Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe, and B.C.’s Grizzly Bear Foundation.

Robb Stavne

Director
Robb Stavne completed his M.Sc. at the University of Alberta in 2005 examining effects of cattle grazing on wetland bird communities in the Aspen Parkland. Since then, Robb has accumulated almost 20 years of experience as a wildlife ecologist, serving with Ducks Unlimited, Sustainable Resources Development (now AEP), Alberta Conservation Association, and Mercer International, and is a founding member and co-chair of the Boreal Nature Network. Robb works and volunteers with his community in Peace River to engage them in citizen science initiatives, and to promote awareness of wildlife and associated issues. Robb currently lives in Peace River from where he operates his consulting venture; Sora Ecological Consulting. When he is not hiking through the woods and grasslands for work, you might find him canoeing and fishing the rivers and lakes in North-west Alberta, hiking the back country, or laying in a crumpled mass of exhaustion.

Corey Scobie

Director

Corey has been the Assistant Curator of Ornithology at the Royal Alberta Museum since 2014, where he prepares birds, manages the 40,000+ objects in the Ornithology collection, develops exhibits, participates in outreach activities and runs various research projects. Previously, Corey worked with Species at Risk in the grasslands of Alberta and Saskatchewan, where he focused on the influence of human development on Burrowing Owls. Outside of work, he enjoys growing food on almost every square meter of his yard in Edmonton as well as hunting and camping with family and friends. 

Remington Bracher

Student Director
Remington is a third-year Conservation Biology student at the University of Alberta and a recent graduate from NAIT’s Technical Conservation Biology program. After finishing his undergrad, he hopes to pursue a graduate program focusing on wildlife management and species reintroduction. As an avid hunter, angler, and registered trapper, you will continually find him out exploring the backcountry of Alberta. In his spare time, he’s an active volunteer for Alberta Conservation Association and Alberta Hunter Education Instructors’ Association. Remington also serves as a committee member of The Parkland Pintails Chapter of Delta Waterfowl.

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.

Ednna Stobschinski

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee Co-Chair
Ednna Stobschinski is an international student taking the B.Sc. Ecosystem Management at Lethbridge College, AB, and current Vice President of her college chapter. After co-founding an environmental collective in her hometown of Tepatitlan, Jalisco (Mexico), she decided to take a leap of faith in the Environmental Sciences profession, bringing her to Canada. Since her arrival in the fall of 2019, she has dedicated herself to student advocacy in her institution (as student Vice President and President, respectively), as well as to volunteering for various local, provincial, and federal environmental organizations. From planting endangered whitebark pine and salvaging trapped fish from canals, to writing popular scientific articles and advocating for equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) within the field, Ednna never seizes to embrace the opportunities that come her way to learn a little more. Her dream is to become a wildlife biologist with a focus in botany and habitat management, and eventually, a future educator in the field.

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.

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


Rooted in Wisdom: Deer Aging Techniques

Embark on a journey of precision and insight with the Lethbridge College Wildlife Analytics Lab (WAL) at the ACTWS Conference in Jasper! Join our workshop, ‘Rooted in Wisdom: Deer Aging Techniques‘, to explore the secrets hidden within wildlife teeth. Explore both the field technique of ‘tooth eruption and wear’ and the laboratory marvel of ‘cementum analysis’ – both dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of ungulate ages. Delve into the heart of these techniques, comparing their accuracy and precision, with a revelation of the superior accuracy of cementum analysis. Learn the art of tooth extraction and witness the seamless process of submitting your own wildlife teeth to the WAL for aging through cementum analysis. Elevate your understanding of deer populations and contribute to the advancement of wildlife knowledge and bolster your resume with applied experience. Participants will gain hands-on familiarity with the field technique of jaw aging, and the lab process of tooth extraction, inspection, preparation, and cementum analysis. Join us in Jasper for a transformative experience at the intersection of field expertise and cutting-edge laboratory analysis!

Facilitated by the Wildlife Analytics Lab, Lethbridge College

Cost: $15

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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