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UW-NPS Research Center|University of Wyoming-National Park Service

Contact Us

UW-NPS Research Center
Harold L. Bergman
Dept. 3166
1000 E. University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: 307-766-4227
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      Serfass otter


University of Wyoming – National Park Service Harlow Summer Seminars at the AMK Ranch


THURSDAY, JULY 2ND 2015, 5:3:00pm


River otters as flagships for aquatic conservation: Why this approach doesn't fit the “North American Model of Wildlife Conservation”


Tom Serfass and Kelly Pearce

Frostburg State University and University of Maryland




Over the last decade the so-called “North American Model of Wildlife Conservation” (NAM) has been among the most widely portrayed aspects of wildlife conservation in North America.  NAM has achieved virtually unconditional support within the wildlife profession despite little review. The re-establishment of native predators in many areas of North America often has been received negatively by some segments of the hunting community, which contrasts with NAM’s portrayal of hunters as uniformly supporting conservation.  The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is an example of a predator widely reintroduced in the U.S. that has sometimes been depicted negatively among some hunters because of its fish eating habits. However, the river otter is generally considered positively by outdoor enthusiasts. The intention of our program is to initiate a critical review of current paradigms regarding wildlife conservation in North America by: 1) reviewing the origins, dissemination, and promotion of NAM; 2) questioning the appropriateness of NAM’s portrayal of recreational hunting/trapping as the equivalent of conservation, especially in relation to river otters and other carnivores; 3) considering whether NAM was conceived to promote holistic wildlife conservation or recreational hunting/trapping; and 4) identifying concerns about the acceptance of NAM as the primary approach for advancing wildlife conservation in the 21st century, focusing on the conservation of river otters.  We argue that until subjected to objective validation, NAM should be treated as no more than a proposed approach for wildlife conservation.  Also, our presentation will review the potential of river otters to serve as “flagships” for promoting aquatic conservation and why such an approach may be received negatively by some representatives of state wildlife agencies.




Tom Serfass

Tom Serfass is a Professor of Wildlife Ecology in the Department of Biology and Natural Resources at Frostburg State University, and Adjunct Professor at the Appalachian Laboratory – University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. A large portion of his research and conservation activities has focused on the design, implementation, and evaluation of wildlife restoration programs and recovering wildlife populations—particularly mesocarnioves. He conceived and coordinated the successful Pennsylvania River Otter and Fisher Reintroduction Projects.  Most recently he has been conducting research to assess the natural history and conservation value (potential as flagship species) of spotted-necked otters at Rubondo Island National Park, Lake Victoria, Tanzania. Tom is the North American Coordinator of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ Otter Specialist Group.


Kelly Pearce

Kelly J. Pearce is a PhD student in the Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Sciences Program at the University of Maryland, and an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Biology and Natural Resources at Frostburg State University. She has a strong background in developing curriculum-based environmental education programs that help to protect the integrity of our earth’s natural ecosystems. She has worked with the National Park Service at Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot National Monument implementing hands-on activities with the First Bloom Program and also with Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center at The Pennsylvania State University before becoming an M.S. student in Applied Ecology and Conservation Biology at Frostburg State University. Kelly’s M.S. research was designed to gain insight on how to promote the river otter as a flagship species in Pennsylvania, and to develop solutions for reducing conflicts with river otters at fish-rearing facilities. She is dedicated to promoting carnivore conservation through developing informed educational programs which link field experiences with students from K-12. She is a member of the IUCN Otter Specialist Group and IUCN and IUCN Nearctic Otter Education Group.


Contact Information:

Thomas L. Serfass, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of Biology and Natural Resources

North American Coordinator, IUCN Otter Specialist Group

Frostburg State University

Frostburg, Maryland 21532, USA

301-687-4171 (Office)

301-697-3446 (Cell)

Thomas Serfass []

The UW-NPS Research Center provides a base for university faculty members and government scientists from throughout North America to conduct research in the diverse aquatic and terrestrial environments of Grand Teton National Park and the greater Yellowstone area.

This year's line up for our seminars looks to be stellar AND Gordy is working on getting new sources for the BBQ (with local beef) so now you will won't find a better place to be on Thursday nights starting June 18th.  Dinner starts at 5:30 ($5 donation is appreciated) talks start at 6:30.  More info to come

June 18th Mark Elbroch of Pantera's Teton Cougar Project is talking about Altruism in mountain lions.

June 25 Diana Miller of Wyoming Game and Fish Department (Jackson) will talk about the history of fisheries management in the western US with notes on the Hoback River and Jackson Lake.

July 2 Tom Serfass and Kelly Pearce, Frostburg State University and University of Maryland; River otters as flagships for aquatic conservation: Why this approach doesn't fit the North American model of wildlife conservation.

Chadron State College crew  

The Station is open!

The station is open and the word is out.  We have classes (Like Michael Leite's class above) on their way and ready to explore the Greater Yellowstone Area.  Classes, Conferences, Seminars and Interns... it is a busy place this year.  Look for the seminar schedules soon.


Harold Bergman and crew would like to welcome you to the UW-NPS research station located beside Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park. The station is a perfect place to base for your research in the Greater Yellowstone Area.

Boat doc evening

AMK Historic Preservation Guide now available online

Mary Humstone (University of Wyoming) wrote in in-depth preservation guide for the historic structures at the AMK. The guide is based on inspections and research conducted as part of an American Studies field course during summer 2011, under the guidance of log building expert Harrison Goodall. The guide identifies preservation concerns with the property's sixteen historic buildings and offers well researched recommendations.  It also has some great historic photos of some of the AMK structures, including John Sargent's cabin (which is no longer standing) and the Johnson Lodge under construction.  The recommendations are valuable to log restoration experts in the Rocky Mountains.  Thanks, Mary!  To read the publication please click here!

2015 Small Grants RFP

Congratulations to the Researchers who were awarded the small grants for 2015.  This year we had 31 great proposals submitted from across America with research from soundscapes to historic preservation.  It was a tough time deciding how to allocate our funds.  Thanks to all who submitted and good luck with your 2015 research season.  For more information see our research page.

UW-NPS a Cooperative Effort

The University of Wyoming-National Park Service (UW-NPS) Research Center is a cooperative effort between the University of Wyoming and the National Park Service. Headquartered on the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie, the research center was established to foster research in National Parks in the Rocky Mountain Region. In addition, the center operates a field research station at the AMK Ranch in Grand Teton National Park which is open from mid-May through mid-October.

The primary function of the Research Station is to promote excellence in research by furnishing housing, laboratory space, transportation, equipment and financial support to enable investigators in the biological, physical and social sciences to access the rich and diverse environments of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, Bridger-Teton and Targhee National Forest and the Gros Vente and Teton Wilderness Areas.

The research station is currently open for researchers. Additionally we will be hosting our popular seminar series starting in June please visit our News page for more information.

Please visit our research living opportunities


two women in a boat inspecting trout and recording data on a clipboard

Fisheries Management Topic of Harlow Lecture at AMK Ranch

June 19, 2015 — Diana Miller, Wyoming Game and Fish Department fisheries biologist, will discuss fisheries management in the West as part of the Harlow Summer Seminars Thursday, June 25, at the University of Wyoming-National Park Service (UW-NPS) Research Center. The center is located at the AMK Ranch in Grand Teton National Park.

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