Wolves Home / Gray Wolves of Yellowstone
 
Meet the Yellowstone Team

* Dr. Mark Johnson, Wildlife Veterinarian
* Mike Phillips, Yellowstone Wolf Restoration Project Leader
* Douglas Smith, Yellowstone Wolf Biologist
* Deb Guernsey, Yellowstone Wolf Restoration Project Assistant

Mike Phillips
Yellowstone Wolf Restoration Project Leader

Mike Phillips photo Mike has a bachelor's degree in ecology from the University of Illinois and a master's degree in wildlife ecology from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He has conducted research on a number of different animals — red wolves, grizzly and black bears, dingoes (in Australia), red foxes, coyotes, and white-tailed deer. He has worked in Australia and throughout the United States, including Alaska, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, North Carolina, and Illinois.

His hobbies are fly fishing, horseback riding, reading, and running. He's married and has three children.

Question: What kind of advice would you give to someone who wants to become a field biologist?

You need to get good grades in school and go to college.

Q: What's your favorite part of the job?

I get to do a lot of different things every day. No two days are alike, and I like that.

Q: What's the least favorite part of the job?

I don't like to talk on the phone.

Q: Why is it important to reintroduce wolves back into the wild?

Wolves are a necessary part of many ecosystems. Unfortunately, many years ago, people didn't understand how important wolves were. People believed that predators, like wolves, were bad and needed to be killed. They were wrong. Reintroducing wolves is important because it is one way to correct the mistakes that were made many years ago.

Q: Could you tell us what a typical day is like for you working with wolves?

Since I do so many different things, there is no "typical" day. During a normal day I usually spend time at my desk talking to people on the phone about wolves, time at my computer writing letters and entering data, and time in the field radio-tracking wolves.

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Douglas Smith
Yellowstone Wolf Biologist

Douglas Smith photo Doug has a Ph.D. in biology. He has hand-raised wolf pups and was a beaver biologist. He live-captured 2,000 beavers and radio-tracked them. He is single and his hobbies are photography and canoeing.

Question: What kind of advice would you give to someone who wants to become a field biologist?

Follow what interests you and do what you like. Everything will fall in place later.

Q: What's your favorite part of the job?

Watching wolves, wilderness travel. Riding horses.

Q: What's the least favorite part of the job?

Paperwork.

Q: Why is it important to reintroduce wolves back into the wild?

Because they were once a vital part of the Yellowstone ecosystem. There are plenty of prey species in Yellowstone, like elk, to support wolves. Ethically, we need to adopt the attitude that other animals besides humans are important.

Q: Could you tell us what a typical day is like for you working with wolves?

Half my day is spent either riding on horseback to a wolf pen to feed the wolves there or flying in an airplane to track radio-collar wolves. The other half of the day is spent supervising volunteers that work on the project, entering data into the computer, and writing about wolves.


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Deb Guernsey photo Deb Guernsey
Yellowstone Wolf Restoration Project Assistant

Deb received a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Montana State University, Bozeman, in 1986. She started as a volunteer for the Yellowstone Wolf Restoration Project in April of 1995. Continuing her volunteer work with the project in the fall of 1995, Deb also attended school in Bozeman, majoring in wildlife biology. She started working full-time as an intern with the wolf project, working on den observation studies in March of 1996 until she was offered an administrative assistant position in June 1996.

She assists the wolf biologists in administrative tasks such as correspondence and distribution of information to the public. She coordinates fund-raising events, maintains organization in the office, and assists in the creation of annual and long-term goals for the wolf project. When needed, she feeds the captive wolves and takes care of their pens. Prior to working at Yellowstone, she volunteered for the Earth Island Institute on their dolphin project and has worked with harbor seals in California.

Deb is single and her hobbies are watching wolves, music, camping, cross-country skiing, hiking, and swimming.

Question: What kind of advice would you give to someone who wants to become a field biologist?

I'm not a biologist, but my advice would be to follow what is truly in your heart, work hard at your goals, and in the end you will be rewarded.

Q: What's your favorite part of the job?

The variety of tasks, working as a team player, and field work.

Q: What's the least favorite part of the job?

Talking with people who are "negative" about wolves.

Q: Why is it important to reintroduce wolves back into the wild?

Wolves are an important link in the Yellowstone ecosystem, which has been missing for over 60 years. Humans got rid of wolves. We owe it to the wolves and to ourselves to set things right. I talk to people thousands of miles away from Yellowstone who know they may never actually see a wolf, but just knowing wolves exist in this area is enough for them to feel good about the decision to bring them back.

Q: Could you tell us what a typical day is like for you working with wolves?

In a word — unpredictable! Keeping up with daily tasks such as correspondence and mailing lists while helping the wolf biologists in the field, be it feeding penned wolves, picking up a road kill to feed penned wolves, or taking visitors up to observe wolves — it's challenging to manage my time effectively. Wolves can be unpredictable. So, working for a project like this can also be unpredictable, but exciting!

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