L. David Mech "Dave"

Wolf/Deer Tech Positions (volunteer)

Wolf Tech Positions (volunteer)

Each year, four volunteer field technicians are needed to live-trap, drug, and radio-collar wolves in the Superior National Forest, Minnesota from late May through mid-November via vehicles on forest roads (primarily summer) and by canoe and camping in wilderness areas (primarily fall).


Deer Tech Positions (volunteer)

Each year, three volunteer field technicians are needed to live-trap, drug, and radio-collar deer via collapsible clover traps in the Superior National Forest, Minnesota from early February through late April (exact end date is weather-dependent).


Position Background:

Wolf Tech Positions

The wolf tech positions on Dr. L. David Mech’s USGS Wolf-Deer project primarily involves wolf trapping and radio tracking of both deer and wolves in the Superior National Forest.  This involves physically and chemically restraining wolves, collecting measurements and blood, conducting telemetry and necropsying wolves and deer.  We will also be collecting wolf scats and analyzing them for diet. 

Long periods driving trucks on gravel, curvy and sometimes wet or possibly snowy roads are required.  Safe driving is imperative, especially given the occurrence of logging trucks.

In addition, we may be trapping in wilderness areas.  This requires long periods of hiking with packs at least 40 lb.; ability to camp, navigate, and survive in the backcountry, physical fitness; attention to detail, etc. 

During fall we canoe into wilderness areas not accessible via roads or motors.  This requires great swimming ability, ability to canoe safely on large lakes and in narrow passages, ability to portage long distances, etc.

Summer in northeastern Minnesota can be very humid and super buggy and technicians will be working with rotting carcasses during wolf trapping and necropsies.  Fall in northeastern Minnesota can be very challenging especially when canoeing due to cold temperatures, frigid water, freezing rain and snow.  Thus, technicians will need to be comfortable with what many people would consider uncomfortable situations. 

Technicians will be working and living in close quarters without scheduled days off (although generally between traplines – approximately every 16 days – there are usually 1 or 2 days off to resupply and prepare for the next trapline) because traps need to be checked every morning and radio signals checked.


Deer Tech Positions

The deer tech positions primarily involve deer trapping and radio tracking of both deer and wolves, physically and chemically restraining deer, collecting measurements and possibly blood, conducting telemetry, and necropsying wolves and deer.

Deer trapping in winter requires hiking in deep snow and carrying heavy equipment (traps and processing equipment).  Technicians must be able to navigate and survive in heavily forested areas, must be in excellent physical fitness and possess superior attention to detail. 

Significant experience driving on snowy roads (including unplowed roads) is highly preferred because the work involves long periods driving in such conditions.  Safe driving is imperative, especially given the occurrence of logging trucks. 

Winter and early spring in northeastern Minnesota can be very challenging due to cold temperatures, snow and frigid water.  Applicants must be safety-conscious.

Technicians will be working and living in close quarters without scheduled days off because traps must be checked every morning (although on days when deer are not captured you will often have the afternoons off).


Both Wolf and Deer Tech Positions

It is extremely important the applicant be safety-conscious at all times.

Applicants will need to be able to work well independently as well as part of a team, closely following instructions but able to make wise decisions.

Also, even if the applicant has experience doing much of the above field work, they must understand the need to follow this study’s methods as this is a long-term study (45+ years) requiring continuity within the dataset.

These positions will be directly supervised by Dr. Shannon Barber-Meyer.



*Previous large mammal trapping highly favored*
*Significant canoeing experience is important for wolf trapping positions*

  1. Required (no exceptions) completed Bachelor of Science in wildlife, biology, ecology, zoology or related by the time the volunteer position begins.
  2. Excellent references.
  3. Willingness and ability to work long hours in wilderness in all kinds of weather.
  4. Experience with wildlife field research, animal capture and handling (especially large mammals), telemetry, necropsy, trapping, etc.
  5. Outdoor and backcountry skills such as orienteering (compass, maps, GPS), canoeing, swimming, backcountry wilderness camping, hiking, backpacking, hunting, etc.
  6. Ability to relate well with the public and team members.
  7. Must be a U.S. citizen with a Social Security number. Due to administrative constraints we are unable at this time to consider international applicants.
  8. Current First Aid and CPR certification or Wilderness First Responder preferred.


Free housing, including cooking facilities; excellent experience with live-trapping, radio-tagging, and radio tracking wolves and deer, and when possible necropsy experience; $15.00/day food stipend (stipend only if US Citizen with SS card).  (Note: After an initial 1 month delay when you begin your volunteer position, approximately every two-three weeks a direct deposit will be made to your account for the $15/day that you'll be paid for a food stipend.  You get paid for every day you are here as a volunteer but some of the pay will arrive after you have left the project.  If you are volunteering during the fall – there is also a 1½ month delay in pay, so mid-September and early October pay arrives at the end of October).


To Apply:

Download application form (Word .doc)
Please return application to Dr. Shannon Barber-Meyer, U.S. Geological Survey, sbarber-meyer@usgs.gov


For Further Information:

Contact David Mech, U. S. Geological survey, Rm 100E, The Raptor Center, University of Minnesota, 1920 Fitch Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108. Phone 651-649-5231, Fax 651-649-5233, mechx002@umn.edu


For Research Details:

Mech. L. D.  2009.  Long-term research on wolves in the Superior National Forest.   Pp. 15-34 in A. P. Wydeven, E. J. Heske, and T. R, Van Deelen (eds).  Recovery of Gray Wolves in the Great Lakes Region of the United States:  an Endangered Species Success Story.  Springer, New York, NY.  350 pp.


Potential Other Research Opportunities:

Besides my own research in Minnesota, the High Arctic, and Yellowstone, I know of only the following ongoing research projects on wolves in North America.

  • Canada - Dr. Paul Paquet, ppaquet@sk.sympatico.ca
  • Yellowstone - Dr. Doug Smith, Yellowstone Center for Resources, P. O. Box 168, YNP, WY 82190, erin_albers@nps.gov
  • Isle Royale - Dr. Rolf Peterson, Biological Sciences Dept., Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, ropeters@mtu.edu
  • North Carolina - Ms. Kathy Whidbee , U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Red Wolf Recovery Program, 708 North Highway 64, P.O Box 1969, Manteo, NC 27954, Kathy_Whidbee@fws.gov
  • Wisconsin – David MacFarland, Wisconsin DNR, 875 S. 4th Ave., Park Falls, WI  54552, David.MacFarland@wisconsin.gov
  • Captive Wolf Studies:

Most of these individuals already have enough employees and graduate students, but it might be advisable to write them, telling them that if no positions are available, they do not need to reply.