Biology professor wins grant for wolf research
A prominent wildlife advocacy group recently awarded a grant to Carthage’s Angela Dassow, allowing the assistant professor of biology and her students to continue studying wolf vocalizations with help from an international team of experts.
Thanks to the $14,935 grant from the Animal Welfare Institute, the team will track the locations of gray wolves in central Wisconsin. Prof. Dassow plans to conduct her portion of the field research over 2 1/2 weeks in December.
As the population of wolves continues to rebound, the region has suffered from a corresponding spike in wolf attacks on livestock and pets. In this growing conflict, people killed at least seven wolves illegally in 2017-18 alone.
By monitoring the movements of packs in more populated areas, Prof. Dassow hopes officials can take steps to minimize those encounters and protect both wolves and domesticated animals.
“This would be the first time we can track these animals in real time without ever having to touch them,” she said. “It’s completely non-invasive and cost-effective.”
The new funding allows the team to equip existing recording devices with GPS technology, as well as to cover fieldwork expenses. Prof. Dassow will partner with Arik Kershenbaum (University of Cambridge), Sara Waller (Montana State University), wildlife biologist Amy Fontaine, and Beth Smith of The Mammal Society on the Canid Howl Project (follow on Twitter).
Prof. Dassow has studied vocal communications in a variety of species. As part of the 2019 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, she and two students examined the “language” between a pair of white-handed gibbons at the nearby Racine Zoo.