The Animal Welfare Institute announced the winners are developing innovative, less intrusive wildlife study techniques and more humane methods of resolving conflicts between wild animals and humans.
Stacy Cotey (SFRES), an instructor, PhD candidate and undergraduate student advisor, received a $14,500 grant to analyze snow tracks left by northern river otters to determine if there is enough nuclear DNA left in the snow track to identify an individual otter and to optimize the collection, filtration and storage methods for collecting DNA from snow tracks. By creating individual genetic profiles, the researchers hope to better monitor the animals’ behaviors, population numbers and genetic diversity.
Andrew Von Duyke of the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management, who received his PhD from SFRES, received the award for monitoring polar bears of the Alaska-Chukotka subpopulation by sampling environmental DNA from snow tracks to genetically “fingerprint” individual animals and estimate the size of the subpopulation.
Established in 2006, the award provides individual grants of up to $15,000 and is named in honor of AWI’s late founder and longtime president, Christine stevens, who dedicated her life to reducing animal suffering both here and abroad. Stevens founded AWI in 1951 to end the cruel treatment of animals in experimental laboratories. Inevitably, her work expanded to take on other animal welfare causes, including protecting vulnerable species, reforming methods used to raise animals for food, banning steel-jaw leghold traps, ending commercial whaling and much more.
“The winners are compassionate scientists, managers and advocates who embody the legacy of Christine Stevens,” said Cathy Liss, president of AWI. “From enlisting drones to monitor the population of a threatened rattlesnake, to using digital acoustic tags to examine close encounters between boats and Florida manatees, these pathbreaking research projects demonstrate less intrusive methods to study wildlife and offer humane solutions to human-wildlife conflicts.”
by School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Appeared in Tech Today, December 20, 2018