Five Black Hills State University students will participate in a 17-day field course entitled “Wolves and other large predators: A Northwoods Experience” in northern Minnesota.

During the intensive field experience students will work on projects during the course. One project will be to determine the grey wolf pack numbers, territories, and behavior through tracking surveys near Ely, Minn. Another project will determine grey wolf pack size, territory, and the impacts of prey species on the historic Jonvick Deer Yard along the North Shore of Lake Superior near Lutsen, Minn. Students will also be collecting data on Canada lynx in the area in cooperation with the Superior National Forest.

BHSU students participating in the field experience include: Christine Bubac, senior biology major from Rapid City; Deidre Shank, senior biology major from Rapid City; Andrew Johnson, junior biology major from Spearfish; Stacy Cline, senior biology major from Rapid City; and Mallory Ageton, sophomore biology major from Brandon.

To prepare for the experience students will receive lectures and training sessions on wolf ecology and observation of captive wolves, lynx ecology and observation of captive lynx and bobcats, deer ecology, coyote and fox ecology, bobcat and cougar ecology, tracking, research techniques, aerial radio telemetry, habitat analysis, winter ecology, winter first aid and safety, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

According to the Audubon Center of the North Woods’ website, the grey wolf has long excited the human imagination. Minnesota, with approximately 3,020 wolves, is home to the largest and only continuous population of wolves in the lower 48 states. It is a center for wolf research. Countries around the world, as well as other states, look to Minnesota as an example of how wolves and humans can co-exist in relative harmony.

“These kind of experiences are critical for the career development of our students,” Dr. Brian Smith, professor of science at BHSU.

Two BHSU students participated in this program last year where they enhanced their education through the intensive learning program.