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April 11, 2008

Conference Success

The last day of the conference wrapped up at noon, and featured varied topics and speakers including:

"Howling Differentiation between North American Gray Wolves" by Nicholas Bromen of Wolf Haven International, "Costs of Wolves' Visits on Cattle and Elk" by Isabelle Laporte - a Masters student at the University of Calgary and "Assessing Ranchers' Attitudes toward Livestock Compensation in the Southwest" by Stacy Vynne of the University of Oregon.

Besides the informative presentations all week, many people expressed their thoughts that the most beneficial take-away from the wolf conference was the ability to meet and discuss ideas freely with experts, agency employees, ranchers, scientists, and tribe representatives among others in a casual setting. Dinners, lunches, and coffee breaks saw unlikely parties laughing together and learning from each other - hopefully mending some bridges, expanding some networks, and setting the stage for the long-term support of wolves in the Northern Rockies.

For those lucky people who stuck around for an extra night, there was an early morning field trip into Yellowstone National Park to see the wolves in their natural surroundings. We were guided by Carl Swoboda of Safari Yellowstone and Linda Thurston of Yellowstone Wolf Tracker and their long experience with the wolves in the park, along with their enthusiasm and passion were evident. As was that of wolf researcher and seasonal park ranger Rick McIntyre - who was on the radio with the pilot of the yellow plane that flies around keeping tabs on the wolves in the park while we were there.

It was an exhilarating experience seeing wolves living their complex lives in the park. A highlight was seeing a lone, limping, bob-tailed wolf run across the snow-covered flat and howl to other wolves in the area. It was an enchanting sound that I will not forget any time soon.

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