A Woman Who Runs With Wolves

Heather Bryan stands beside a large tree.

Biologist Heather Bryan has been an essential member of Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s large carnivore team for over half a dozen years. She played an important role in Raincoast’s cutting edge coastal wolf research and is now one of the lead scientists for our grizzly-salmon project and monitoring of carnivore systems in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest.

With undergraduate degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria, Heather is currently a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary where she studies wildlife health.

Heather has a keen interest in assessing carnivore health and diseases in wildlife populations. She was the lead author on a peer-reviewed study recently published in the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research, which provides insight into the implications of diseases in dogs from remote communities. Researchers from Raincoast, the University of Calgary and other
academic institutions surveyed dogs in five remote BC communities and found evidence of diseases that cause suffering in domestic dogs, wild wolves and potentially people. Heather has been an author on several other peer-reviewed publications addressing diet and disease in wolves, as well as their ecology.

One of Heather’s many passions is to share her “infectious” enthusiasm for ecology through workshops designed to inspire youth about science and conservation. For many years, Heather has been a volunteer educator with the  Let’s Talk Science program in which she focuses on sharing her wealth of knowledge about wolves, bears and salmon with children of all ages.

Heather has a long list of awards and scholarships to her credit. One of the unique honors she has received is from Wings Worldquest in recognition of her adventurous research and scientific accomplishments. Wings Worldquest is an organization that celebrates extraordinary women explorers and scientists as mentors for women worldwide.

In her spare time, you might find Heather climbing mountains, bicycle touring or running marathons. In fact, she completed the Victoria GoodLife Fitness Marathon this past fall as part of Raincoast’s “Salmon Run” team. Raincoast is the only conservation group among the official pledge charities for the marathon. Heather and her running partner raised over $2,000 in pledges for Raincoast’s science programs for kids. Like the wolves she studies, Heather has an indomitable spirit that runs through her life and the lives she helps safeguard.

A version of this article was first published in Seaside Times June 2011.