Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category
FULL REPORT COMING SOON!
The first international Wolf & Carnivore Conference was held in Thompson, Manitoba on October 23-24, 2012.
Thank you to almost 100 people who attended from Canada, USA, Finland, Japan and France. Over 20 excellent presentations were given. A special mention to our keynote speakers – Alistair Bath/Memorial University, Dave Mech/University of Minnesota, Nikita Ovsyanikov/Russian Academy of Sciences, Paul Paquet and Marco Musiani from the University of Calgary.
Much more information will be presented here soon – photos, presentations, comments, etc. Please come back!
After two years of work by Spirit Way Inc’s (SWI) volunteer ad hoc committee (Marion Morberg, Volker Beckmann, Dr. Ken Bingham, Wayne Hall, Tom O’Brien, Penny Byer), Mayor Johnston presented SWI a Letter of Understanding regarding the proposed Wolf Park, four weeks before construction was to start, that was not acceptable. Further discussion will be required to see if this project can be resumed.
SWI began this initiative 2 years ago with the blessing of Mayor Tim Johnston and Oswald Sawh, Councillor and City rep on the Zoo Society. During the past 18 months over a dozen grant applications and funding presentations were made to different agencies. Six different zoo experts and wolf biologists from Canada and the USA were invited to Thompson with Calm Air’s assistance to look at the Thompson Zoo and the current wolf enclosure that was constructed by the Thompson Rotary Club 27 years ago. It no longer meets the animal care standards of today.
Over 20 meetings were held with interested parties including the Zoo Director and University College of the North who are very interested in becoming a Centre of Wolf Excellence. UCN students could utilize the Zoo and Wolf Park which will be located adjacent to the pending new campus announced by the Province of Manitoba. Science studies and research projects could be undertaken at the Zoo. Students could do internships and work experiences at the Wolf Park. Elderhostel learning vacations are a definite possibility. The UCN carpentry class was prepared to do framing and roofing for a 1600 sq ft viewing building that would allow class room study of the wolves during winter months when their fur coats are at their finest.
Doug Ross, retired Director from the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, was contracted by SWI to assist in designing the habitat space. A wolf pack requires unique features to keep the animals content and stress free. Without that, wolves will pace and can become aggressive to each other and to zoo handlers. Many details were considered. Laurie Lamb, landscape architect, was hired to design a one acre space that would house 3-4 wolves of the same genetic pool and a retirement area for the two current wolves that would be 6 times larger than what they have now. Other wolf parks in Canada and the USA were visited including the wolf enclosure at the Denver Zoo and input sought to achieve a first class facility for Thompson. It was felt that the Thompson Wolf Park would be the finest in Canada.
The total project costs were estimated to be $253,000 and over $200,000 has been raised to date including support and funds by Thompson Rotary Club, Community Places, Manitoba Community Services Council, Thompson Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation and private donations. A business plan would be required to operate a viable Wolf Park that would focus on science, conservation and tourism interests. A new governance model would need to be developed that would ensure opportunities for success and allow the Wolf Park to become an integral component of a much broader plan for Thompson to become the Wolf Capital of Canada and link with Churchill as Polar Bear Capital of the World.
Thompson is situated in the middle of wilderness boreal forest. Manitoba has some estimated 6000 wolves that have had very limited study. The opportunities for scientific research and eco-tourism initiatives are significant. Research projects, wolf conferences, learning vacations, wolf tours and study, etc are a few areas of development that could be undertaken. Manitoba could become a world leader in wolf management and attract interest from around the world. Canada’s foremost wolf biologist, Dr. Paul Paquet, from the University of Calgary and Saskatchewan has visited Thompson and expressed interest to work with UCN on wolf related research.
Thompson has all the raw ingrediants to develop a wolf “economy”. No other place in the world has developed such amazing wolf art such as a 86 ft high Robert Bateman wolf mural, 49 painted wolf statues, the start of Canada’s largest rock sculpture, and a GPS wolf statue hunt. There are many irons in the fire. More than a dozen organizations in Canada, USA and Mexico have expressed interest in working with Thompson on wolf initiatives that involve tourism or science. Yet, all of this is contingent on a new, enlarged and enhanced wolf park. We hope to resolves these issues soon. Stay tuned!
Are you interested in helping us in some capacity… construction? fundraising? research? art or cultural initiatives? promotion? Please contact us through this website wherever you are.
In the Spirit!
DATELINE: June 1, 2010
As summer arrives in the North, residents and visitors look forward to the long warm days. Thompson is a summer and winter playground and there are a zillion things to do in the surrounding pristine wilderness.
Friends of Spirit Way have met to discuss more landscaping and other beautification and maintenance tasks to be undertaken this summer. A recent presentation was made to City Council this May that outlined the plans for the new Wolf Park at the Thompson Zoo. This would be Canada’s finest. More funds need to be raised and more volunteers are needed to complete the project by 2011. Stay tuned for details here.
The goal is to invite 100 people to become official FRIENDS. These are people who are proud of their community and can be Thompson Ambassadors. You can do as little or as much as you like. Contact us for information. We will reward you with a very special pin.
Monthly public guided walking tours of Spirit Way will be offered so anyone can learn and enjoy the many unique features and points of interest along the pathway.
Our Facebook group is growing and we’d like to make invite more people to join with their ideas how to improve on Spirit Way.
The Firefighter Tribute statue will be completed this summer – lighting, landscaping, trees, a pathway to the Bailey Bridge are all planned for this year. If you can help, let us know.
Have a great summer, and visit us here again!
The bi-annual Carnivore Conference was held in November in Denver, Colorado. Hosted by Defenders of Wildlife, a Thompson delegation representing Spirit Way Inc., Thompson Unlimited and University College of the North presented the plans for Thompson to be known as the Wolf Capital of Canada.
Over 500 attendees participate in over 210 different presentations on all aspects of carnivore conservation, restoration, management and other issues that involved federal and state agencies, wildlife organizations, legal interests, cattle ranchers, farmers, animal parks, preserves, and interested individuals. For the Thompson group it was an eye-opener of the complexities in the USA to find the balance to protect everyone’s interests. Of course, the challenge is to create effective policies for conservation management when science and politics can be at odds.
In Northern Manitoba, there are no major human/wolf conflict issues as in many populated regions around the world. The wolf population in Northern Manitoba is abundant. Yet new roads, hydro dams, hydro transmission corridors are being planned that may impact wolves and the prey/predator balance. Therefore, it is important to determine what the baseline data is for wolves so proper wolf management policies can be considered and/or implemented in the future.
Michelle Moayeri, a University of Manitoba grad student, has started a two year research study into the effects of hydro corridors on wolf movement and the impact on caribou or moose populations. Many other topics of wolf research could be undertaken relating to biology, Aboriginal ecological knowledge, social sciences, human attitudes, etc. Thompson is inviting American and Canadian universities and research agencies to explore the possibilities and look at using this pristine wilderness boreal forest environment for wolf study. The opportunities for research are fascinating.
Currently Thompson is communicating with an organization in the United States and another in Mexico to develop a wolf art and cultural project through 3 cities in 3 countries. The theme would be “Wolves Without Borders” and a promotion campaign could be launched in the spring of 2010. It would a wonderful way to launch a unique campaign that would draw positive attention to wolves and how cities and countries can work together to present a positive story to the public. There will be more announcements coming in a few months at this blog site.
Spirit Way is currently working on several initiatives with several partners:
- Developing the Wolf Capital of Canada theme
- Developing our local University College of the North as a Wolf Center of Excellence
- Calling for the first ever wolf research studies to be undertaken in the wilderness of northern Manitoba
- Hosting an invitational Wolf Research Symposium in 2010
- Twinning our city with one in the USA and Mexico to launch a “Wolves without Borders” art and culture theme
- Linking Thompson as Wolf Capital with the Polar Bear Capital of the World in Churchill, Manitoba
- Working with the Thompson Zoo to develop a larger and enhanced Wolf Park
Please contact us if any of the above are of interest to you.
Have a Happy New Year!
In 2004, when the Spirit Way Master Plan was presented to City Council, the goal was to create a Manitoba Star Attraction. After 5 years, over $1.3 million raised, and an unbelievable amount of volunteer effort and community support, Minister of Culture, Heritage and Tourism, Eric Robinson, has informed the Board that Spirit Way is officially designated as a Manitoba Star Attraction! That signifies it is one of the top tourist attractions in the province of Manitoba. It is Thompson’s second MSA after the Heritage North Museum.
Travel Manitoba, on their website, www.travelmanitoba.com, now shows Spirit Way as one of the top 20 places to visit in the Province. Considering that Spirit Way did not exist five years ago, that is a tremendous accomplishment. Once the yellow star logo goes on all Travel Manitoba literature and on the highway sign, it has been shown that tourist visits increase. People want to see what’s unique and different about Manitoba.
For rubber tire travelers heading North, the Star Attractions are Pisew Falls, Heritage North Museum, Spirit Way, and then Churchill Polar Bear tours. Spirit Way now has great company! Because Spirit Way is a walkway with various points of interest, it offers a range of interests to the visitor… the only Robert Bateman painting as a mural and the largest lighted mural in the world, the start of Canada’s largest rock sculpture, a stunning Norseman float plane overlooking the seaplane base, a unique tribute to firefighters (coming soon), and 24 beautiful wolf statues along the Way are just some of the art, culture, and heritage tributes the embody Spirit Way. Someone said for any community to undertake one or two such tributes would be special, but to have 16 Points of Interest is remarkable.
For those travelers going to Churchill to see beluga whales or polar bears, stopping a day or two in Thompson will add to their adventure. Monthly guided public walking tours are planned for this summer. Downloadable audio tours will be available on this website later this year. By next year, we expect to have regular guided walking tours of Spirit Way.
Spirit Way is a credit to all the partners, supporters and volunteers who made it happen. Thompson can show itself with pride. The number of people who are constantly taking photos daily of the various sites to take home and show their friends puts Thompson in a new light. Taking photos within the community in this manner seldom happened five years ago.
Spirit Way is not finished. Consultant’s work is progressing on a Canadian Centre for Aboriginal Art – The Spirit Way Arts Centre. More details will become known in late summer. This would be a signature facility in Thompson and unique in Canada. Yet, others are working hard on a strategic plan to position Thompson as Wolf Capital of Canada. Again, more details will be forthcoming later this year. Some people feel there are two more Manitoba Star Attractions in Thompson’s future. Considering that only Winnipeg, Brandon and Stonewall have two or more Star Attractions, Thompson is defining itself in a new way.
Spread the word that Thompson has become a unique and interesting place to visit! And please keep coming back to this website to stay current with new developments.