Introducing Erik & his graduate field research

I am a research assistant at Washington State University’s (WSU) School of the Environment, and a wild-and-wily member of Dr. Dan Thornton’s Mammal Spatial Ecology & Conservation Lab. (

I’ve been privileged to work with an array of wildlife species across the Pacific Northwest over the past 15+ years, learning under the tutelage of some incredible wildlife professionals.

Flying in the backseat of an airplane with a faithful companion whose mind speaks to mine

And I feel fortunate to possess considerable experience working with grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) during this time period to conserve their population in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, which includes Glacier National Park. In my free time, I seek-out the high country (where I feel most at home) to climb mountains in the Crown of the Continent.

Sure, summer fieldwork is a good time. But winter fieldwork is as good as it gets!

For my graduate research, I am combining my two aforementioned interests into a unique research project that will help managers better understand grizzly bear use of a key food resource. By combining aerial and ground surveys of potential army cutworm moth habitat (Euxoa auxilliaris), my graduate work will describe grizzly bear resource selection of army cutworm moth aggregations in the trans-boundary Crown of the Continent area, which includes Glacier National Park in Montana, Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, and Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park in British Columbia.

A grizzly bear at rest during the midday heat at a moth aggregation site

This work will aid future grizzly bear management in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem by providing decision-makers with the information and justification they need to maintain grizzly bear security in these critical alpine habitats in the future amid a growing population, growing demand for high country recreation, and a changing physical environment.

An Ursus sapiens emerging from its den

I aspire to also use my research opportunity to engage the public and promote the conservation of wildlife and wild places. Often, it seems success in my profession is measured solely by one’s ability to engage the scientific community and publish research results. In my experience, I’ve observed it takes more than that. I believe a wildlife biologist can make a difference after he or she’s work also informs, appeals to, and inspires a greater capacity for wildlife conservation in the public. To achieve this goal, my research will engage the public using this web page and develop educational visual print and film mediums.

So, please check back for updates on my project’s research progress in the future.

Standing atop the Crown of the Continent with a buddy

This research is generously supported by the Glacier National Park Conservancy, the official fundraising partner of Glacier National Park. If you would like to help conserve Glacier’s wild spirit, you may do so by making a donation here:

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