Dordt College News

Out in the wild

May 24, 2013

Rosy cheeks and temperatures down to -28 degrees were all part of the experience for students visiting a Minnesota boreal forest in winter.

Environmental studies and biology students at Dordt become quite familiar with the northern plains tall grass prairie ecosystem as they work in, visit, and explore local restored prairies.

But Dr. Robb De Haan also makes sure that students have an opportunity to experience at least two other ecosystems during their four years at Dordt. De Haan’s students visit and learn about the Sandhills ecosystem in Nebraska when they take Avian Biology and Conservation. They observe and learn about the boreal forest ecosystem in northeastern Minnesota when they take Wildlife Management and Ecology.

“There are no unmanaged wildlife populations left today,” says De Haan. “Human activity affects every species: Some are promoted, some are controlled.” Students interested in jobs related to wildlife need to know not only information about the animals and their environments but also how wildlife management has developed historically and who the players are today, says De Haan. So, in mid-February, De Haan and 11 students in his Wildlife Management and Ecology class drove nine hours north to learn about the boreal forest near Ely, Minnesota. Their pictures tell the story.

Many biology classes and labs focus on the micro-level of study. This class allowed us to experience and enjoy the expanse of creation on a macro-scale. I valued the relationships we formed on the trip, with both classmates and professionals. It has become clear to me that more can be accomplished when we work together.
—Seth Fopma

My favorite stop by far was the International Wolf Center. As much as I disliked waking up at 6 a.m. to the sound of howling wolves, it was a unique experience and made for a good story. I particularly enjoyed learning about the technology and methods researchers in Ely are using to track local packs and to tune in to the beep of a wolf in the wild. It inspired me to get a job in research that will promote better conservation and management or to look for a position in environmental education.
—Nicole Staudt

Class objectives

1. Read, analyze, and critique primary and secondary wildlife literature

2. Describe what wildlife management is and what a wildlife biologist does

3. Identify 50 to 100 wildlife species

4. Describe the natural and management history of several wildlife species

5. Live-trap and identify small mammal species and analyze the data

6. Evaluate wildlife habitat by taking physical measurements and using a Habitat Suitability Index model

7. Describe the size, location, and landscape characteristics of several state and federal wildlife areas or refuges, and outline the management plans for these areas

8. Describe the historical development of wildlife management and of the governmental agencies, departments, commissions, etc. responsible for wildlife

9. Critique some of the major policies that govern use, protection, and restoration of wildlife in the United States

10. Explain the major wildlife issues, challenges, and techniques in agriculture, rangeland, forest, and urban settings

11. Critique the use of hunting and trapping for recreation and as wildlife stewardship tools

12. Describe the history and problems of control/stewardship for some exotic wildlife species

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