by April Martinig
What was supposed to be a happy coincidence (“Oh, my course just happens to be in sunny California this January??”), turned into a flood of biblical proportions and Canadian cold snow. I found myself in Julian, California to learn from Dr. Mark Johnson (of Global Wildlife Resources) the basics of (and also to go off textbook on) how to professionally and ethically handle and chemically immobilize wild animals.
Canadian cold snow!
As I was nearing the end of my Master’s degree I had begun making goals for the next stage of my career. My MSc research aimed to provide targeted management recommendations for future development projects that intend to incorporate small fauna passages into the infrastructure design process. I was actively trying to identify ways in which the Quebec Ministry of Transportation could more effectively manage its biodiversity in areas rife with human development. The course allowed me to transition from my current studies (which were purely observational) to more hands on research. My newfound knowledge will allow me to work for organizations that are helping local communities manage their native biodiversity while simultaneously considering both the short- and long-term consequences of their policy decisions.
The California Wolf Center building
Working alongside the California Wolf Center, we were trained to chemically immobilize wolves and handle a wide range of animals. Mark showed us how to preform proper physicals in a timely fashion, and how to work with the wolves when they are not chemically immobilized in a compassionate and efficient manner.
Despite the snow (and there was a lot of snow), we still got outside and learnt the basics of darting, getting to practice on a wide array of dart guns. While there, I met a wide range of other wildlife professionals from across the United States. We exchanged experiences and learnt not just from the course instructor, but also from each other. Although the weather was, at times, less than forgiving, I completed the certification much better equipped to go out into the next stage of my career. I now have the skills, knowledge, and expertise to be confident in situations where I will need to work with wildlife in a compassionate, but professional manner. Without the support of QCBS, I likely would not have been able to participate in the course. Hopefully QCBS continues to make experiences such as my own possible.