National Office

Colin Robertson – Wilfred Laurier University

Colin received his PhD from the University of Victoria in 2011. The unifying theme of his research is the development and application of spatial analysis and GIScience techniques in spatial ecology and epidemiology. Specifically, he is interested in understanding the role that environmental change has on the health of human and animal populations and how geographical tools can help to understand the complex interactions giving rise to new diseases and risks.

Currently his research is exploring the use of volunteered geographic information in environmental research, spatial and space-time modelling of emerging disease risk, and spatial model validation techniques.

Todd Shury – Parks Canada

Todd is a 1993 graduate of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and has always had a fascination with wildlife and outdoor pursuits. Consequently, he has worked primarily with free-ranging wildlife and zoo animals ever since graduation: as an associate veterinarian at the Calgary Zoo, a wildlife veterinarian since 1994 and on numerous wildlife projects throughout Canada. He is currently the wildlife veterinarian for the Parks Canada Agency and oversees wildlife health, chemical immobilization training, animal care and disease issues in 42 national parks across the country. Todd recently earned a Ph.D. in epidemiology in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine.

Brett Elkin – Government of Northwest Territories

Brett is an established wildlife veterinarian and now Manager of Wildlife Research and Management and Chief Veterinary Officer with the Government of Northwest Territories. His professional and research interests include disease ecology and epidemiology in free-ranging wildlife with a special interest in diseases of wood bison, such as brucellosis, tuberculosis and anthrax and their management. Public education pertaining to wild animal health issues and country food safety are ongoing focus areas. Brett is a long-time partner of the CWHC and currently is a member of the CWHC Executive Committee it’s senior advisory board as well as numerous other boards and committees, including the Canadian Council of Chief Veterinary Officers, a council member of the Wildlife Disease Association and several disease and species specific advisory boards and working groups. Since graduating from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine Brett has maintained close connections with both the University of Calgary and the University of Saskatchewan providing graduate student mentoring and is actively engaged in several wildlife health externships and field courses.

Gordon Stenhouse

Gord is a research scientist and the leader of the Foothills Research Institute Grizzly Bear Research Program. This research program began in 1998 and has grown to be one of the largest and most comprehensive bear research programs in North America. There are now over 1000 scientific papers from the research team working on this program over the past 15 years.

Gord received both his Bachelors and Masters Degree from the University of Manitoba. After graduating he moved to the NWT where he worked as a wildlife biologist for the Northwest Territories government. During this time he focused primarily on polar bear research.

Gord is on secondment from the Alberta ESRD and is an adjunct professor at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. He is also the past chairman of the Alberta Grizzly Bear Recovery Team.

British Columbia

Helen Schwantje – Government of British Columbia

Helen Schwantje is the Wildlife Veterinarian for British Columbia (BC) and responsible for the provincial Wildlife Health Program since 1992. She is also co-director of the CWHC BC region. The Program provides wildlife veterinary science advice and services, including the diagnosis of wildlife and zoonotic diseases, wildlife disease surveillance and species specific health assessments, focusing on species at risk and their conservation. She is the lead in the development of appropriate provincial-in-scope policies and procedures and sits on a number of recovery teams for species at risk. Other duties include animal care review, forensic services and expert testimony and training of staff/other wildlife professionals in immobilization, animal handling and care, disease diagnosis, and necropsy techniques.

She graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine with Distinction in 1981 and received a Masters in Veterinary Pathology, with a specialty in wildlife diseases, in 1987.  She worked at the Woodland Park Zoological Gardens in Seattle, Washington for an extended externship in 1981 and volunteered on numerous field projects in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and northern Canada during the period from 1981 to 1992.  From 1987- 1993, she was the owner of a wildlife veterinary consulting company, performing various field procedures and written contracts for agencies and other consulting companies on a variety of wild species.  She is a long time member of the BC Veterinary Medical Association, Canadian Veterinary Association, Wildlife Disease Association, American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians, the Canadian Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians and a past member of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians and has held board and committee positions in several of these, including committees dealing with issues such as animal welfare, communications and international affairs.


Owen Slater – University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Owen Slater is an instructor of wildlife and exotic animal medicine in the Department of Ecosystem and Public Health at the UCVM since 2012, in addition to being a freelance wildlife veterinary consultant and an associate of the CWHC in Alberta. He has always had a passion for wildlife and furthered his knowledge in this area through completion of a BSc in Ecology (2000) and a DVM (2006) at the University of Guelph. After an internship in zoological medicine (2008), Owen worked as a zoo veterinarian at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago (2008-2010) and at the Calgary Zoo (2010-2012). Owen currently provides wildlife veterinary expertise to various government, private and non-profit organizations, as well as CWHC Alberta on captive and free ranging wildlife. He instructs wildlife chemical immobilization courses for provincial biologists and university researchers, is the current president of the Canadian Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians (CAZWV) and chair of the Wildlife and Ecosystem Health Advisory Committee for the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association. Owen has been involved in various endangered species conservation projects and wildlife research studies in North America, including work with eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, red wolves, mountain caribou, and bighorn sheep. In East Africa, he has worked on projects focusing on chimpanzees, mountain gorillas and spotted hyenas. Outside of veterinary medicine, Owen is an avid wildlife photographer with images published by many conservation organizations and is a wildlife guide for Classic Canadian Tours on trips to famed Churchill, MB and Khutzeymateen, BC.

Susan Cork – University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Cork joined the UCVM faculty in 2008 as founding Head of the Department of Ecosystem and Public Health. Prior to joining the faculty, Dr. Cork spent five years with the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture where she held a number of policy and management positions. Dr. Cork completed her Veterinary degree (Massey University) in 1987 and returned to complete a PhD in 1994. During her PhD she provided diagnostic support for wildlife in partnership with the New Zealand Department of Conservation. In 1995, Dr. Cork accepted the position of veterinary laboratory manager in Bhutan; this was part of an EU funded project to strengthen veterinary services in Asia. In 2003, after 6 years in the UK working in academia, she returned to New Zealand to join the Government Service and obtained a Diploma in Public Policy from the School of Government, Victoria University. In 2014, Dr. Cork completed a 6-month sabbatical at the National Centre for Animal Health in Bhutan. Her special interests are in global health, animal health policy, veterinary public health and wildlife diseases.

Judit Smits
– University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

My research interests focus on ecotoxicology and the impact that environmental contaminants have on human and animal health.  I study wildlife for their own sake, and because they can serve as sentinels of pollutant effects on human and animal health. A healthy ecosystem, by definition, includes the health of animals, humans and their environment (air, water, soil).  My most recent initiative in toxicology research is towards mitigating chronic arsenic toxicity (arsenicosis) in humans using bio-fortified food.  Arsenicosis affects 50 to 100 million people worldwide according to the World Health Organization.  Another continuing research interest of mine involves avian research; passerines, waterfowl and gulls, storks, vultures and other raptors.  Other classes of vertebrates with which I work are amphibians and carnivores. My research spans a wide geographic area, including numerous sites across Canada, Bangladesh, Mexico, Spain and South Africa.

Nigel Caulkett – University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Caulkett completed his DVM at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 1989. Soon after graduation, he worked on a project in the Northwest Territories, performing semen analysis on wood bison. Dr. Caulkett spent a year in mixed practice in St Paul Alberta and returned to WCVM in 1990 to start a residency in veterinary anesthesiology. Dr. Caulkett’s MVetSc research focused on xylazine epidural analgesia in cattle. After completion of his residency, Dr. Caulkett remained at WCVM in a clinical position for 1 year. Dr. Caulkett started on faculty at WCVM in 1994 and received board certification from the ACVA in the same year. Much of Dr. Caulkett’s research has focused on the development of safe capture and handling techniques in free ranging wildlife, and the development and evaluation of analgesic techniques in farm animals.


Ian Barker – Ontario Veterinary College

As a founding member and long-time Director (retired) of the CWHC Ontario/Nunavut Region Ian has had a long history with the organization and studying wildlife disease. Ian is a professor emeritus with the Ontario Veterinary College. Having edited, written and contributed to numerous publications, supervised dozens of graduate students and delivered many seminars, conference presentations and short courses Ian has greatly advanced the field of veterinary pathology and our understanding of wildlife diseases, including zoonoses.


Spencer Greenwood – Atlantic Veterinary College

Spencer is a tenured faculty member in the AVC’s Department of Biomedical Sciences.  He is a diagnostic parasitologist with AVC’s Diagnostic Services and is a very productive researcher at the college.  His expertise is specifically in the area of protozoology. Spencer’s major research interest is within the AVC Lobster Science Centre and focuses on improving our understanding of crustacean biology through molecular studies and to translating this new information into appropriate applications for improving the sustainability and economic viability of the Canadian crustacean industries (lobster, crab and shrimp).

David Overy – Nautilus Bioscience Canada – Atlantic Veterinary College

David is the Senior Research Scientist (i.e., Fungal Natural Product Discovery Group Leader) for Nautilus Bioscience Canada Inc. and is adjunct faculty in the Department of Pathology and Microbiology, AVC. His expertise is specifically in the area of mycology and utilizes classical culture for the identification of fungi, but he also has strong capabilities in applying molecular techniques for fungal identification.  David has been actively involved in bat white-nose syndrome applied research with the CWHC Atlantic Region.

María Forzán – Atlantic Veterinary College

María has been a contract wildlife pathologist with CWHC-Atlantic on and off since the early years of the centre.  In recent years, however, she has independently worked on her PhD program, although she has continued to actively participate and to contribute to the work of CWHC-Atlantic region.  María research has focused on amphibian health.

Gary Conboy – Atlantic Veterinary College

Gary is a tenured faculty member in the AVC’s Department of Pathology & Microbiology.  He is an expert diagnostic parasitologist, particularly in relation to macroparasites He is a classic parasitologist, in the sense that his primary skills relate to identification of a wide variety of macroparasitic species based on morphologic characteristics, what can be described as diagnostic parasitology.  A gradually decreasing number of veterinary parasitologists have such skills, since the current tendency is to adopt molecular tools and focus on research questions pertaining to only a few specific groups of parasites. 

Raphaël Vanderstichel, Atlantic Veterinary College

Raphaël obtained his DVM degree in 2004 and a PhD degree in 2011, both at the AVC.  He is an epidemiologist and statistician and is involved in a broad variety of epidemiological projects.  He also serves frequently as consultant on graduate projects. 

Ted Leighton – Western College of Veterinary Medicine

Frederick A. (Ted) Leighton is the former Executive Director of the CWHC and a professor emeritus in the Department of Veterinary Pathology at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine.

His childhood was spent in Nova Scotia and in upstate New York, and he has lived for significant periods in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan. His consuming interests are wildlife conservation and its place in sustaining ecological stability and human well-being within the limits of the biosphere. He has degrees from the University of Saskatchewan (DVM), Cornell University (AB, PhD) and Memorial University (Dip Ed.), and became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists in 1984. Following retirement Ted moved to his long-term family property in Nova Scotia.