October 16, 2007

Celebrating Wolf Awareness Week
with Kim Miller and Erin Hunt at the California Wolf Center

National Wolf Awareness Week is celebrated each year during the third week of October. To learn more about this occasion as well as to better understand what exactly takes place at the remote California Wolf Center, I recently met with Manager Kim Miller (left), as well as the facility's animal caretaker and UCSD biology student Erin Hunt (below).

30 Years of Education, Conservation, and Research
"There are three things that we try and do each and every year," explains Kim Miller. "The first thing is education; we have programs here for the general public as well as specialized training and school programs.

Conservation, which is one of our larger efforts; we work with a program called the Species Survival Plan with the recovery of Mexican wolves.

And, research; we have research that actually goes on here at the facility in conjunction with the local universities in our county as well as off-site and in the recovery areas of the southwest..."

This video provides an overview of the HPWREN-connected California Wolf Center, which is located in rural San Diego County - approximately four miles from Julian. Manager Kim Miller and Caretaker Erin Hunt discuss the primary objectives of the Center as well as day-to-day activities - such as the efforts involved with caring for the 36 wolves living on the site.

Sharing California Wolf Center with the Rest of the World
The National Science Foundation-funded HPWREN connectivity is used for a variety of activities at the California Wolf Center ranging from motion sensing cameras and real-time acoustics sensors to live presentations from the hard-to-reach facility to metropolitan university classrooms.

Erin Hunt explains that the HPWREN connectivity assists the Wolf Center in achieving their overall goals, such as carrying out research related to wolf vocalization, feeding behavior, natural pack interaction, and the list continues.

"And, anyone who has access to the Internet can view our wolves in real-time while they are exhibiting their natural behaviors and that's a great education tool," she says.

The above video depicts the multiple uses of HPWREN connectivity at the California Wolf Center - ranging from acoustics research to distance education activities.

Real-Time Monitoring
As aforementioned, the HPWREN-connected cameras and microphones are used to study behavior and vocalization of wolves, how they interact with one another, and how best to manage them. Specifically, the real-time monitoring equipment includes two antennae for the wireless access point (right). These antennae support mobile stations that allow researchers and students to make live presentations from the Wolf Center to remote locations such as university classrooms.

Additional monitoring equipment includes a megapixel camera (left), which was installed in January 2004, and is accessible via the California Wolf Center's website. The set-up also encompasses an Ethernet hub, which is connected by underground fiber to the HPWREN radio; this hub connects the camera and serves as an access point for Live Interactive Virtual Explorations (LIVE) activities, which allow for real-time "tours" of the Wolf Center from anywhere in the world.

This video includes a description of wi-fi and monitoring equipment at the California Wolf Center used for research and education activities.

Enhancing On-Site Education
Both Kim Miller and Erin Hunt agree that the HPWREN connectivity and activities like LIVE should not replace the hands-on fieldtrips that take place at the California Wolf Center. Instead, they say, the HPWREN connectivity enhances their ability to share information and to keep a wide range of publics informed about the research, education, and conservation efforts that take place at the California Wolf Center.

Additional photographs are available.

-Kimberly Mann Bruch
San Diego Supercomputer Center, University of California - San Diego

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