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Posted: March 8, 2020

Happy International Women’s Day

Today, VAST Resource Solutions recognizes and celebrates International Women’s Day by introducing you to Nicole Besler, Intermediate Wildlife Biologist.

Originally from Calgary, Besler has a B.Sc. in Zoology from the University of Calgary and a M.Sc. from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.

Before starting with VAST, Besler’s education and career took her to several remote locations across Canada and the U.S., where she discovered her passion for research – from chasing ground squirrels and Grizzly Bears across Kananaskis country to tracking bats in Alberta’s badlands and Newfoundland.

“I really enjoyed the bat research and the diverse field methods and study questions involved,” said Besler. “That’s actually why I ended up in B.C. – it has the highest number of bat species in Canada. After obtaining my M.Sc., which was on the eco physiology of little brown bats, I reached out to a few B.C. bat people, including Dr. Leigh Anne Isaac, project lead and Sr. Wildlife Biologist with VAST, who spearheads the Kootenay Community Bat Project. We kept in touch and eventually that lead to an opportunity with VAST.

“The company is a great fit for me. There are quite a few people with PhDs working at VAST, which is fairly unique for a consulting company. And there is a strong interest in developing creative and innovative science-based management solutions to projects. I think, more and more, industry and government want to see evidence-based solutions to responsible resource development and environment sustainability. In my perspective, VAST is a great place for me to be part of that movement.”

Some of Besler’s most recent work with VAST includes amphibian (frog, salamander and toad) and bat surveys and data analysis. She also leads a bat monitoring project, developing and testing methods for monitoring maternity roosts in pre- and post-harvest areas.

“I’m intrigued by the natural world and how animals exist within it. I like the process of determining what I think is happening, how can I measure it, and then carrying out my plan and eventually getting an answer,” said Besler. “I like that you always get an answer. Maybe it was the one you expected and maybe the answer brings a whole new set of questions and a new process of discovery. But the experience has told you something. And that’s fun for me.”

In her spare time Besler spends as much time outdoors as possible and recently took on three puppies: two malamutes and one Newfoundland mix. She lives in Kimberley with her husband, who also works for VAST Resource Solutions as a wildlife biologist.

Besler hopes to one day complete a PhD, and maybe combine her passion for dogs with her pursuit of knowledge.

“I’ve been looking into how dogs are being trained and used in wildlife biology to assist with surveys and conservation,” she said. “Dogs can smell certain species out and I think it would be highly valuable to have powerful and hardy dogs for winter work. I can see myself loading up the dogs and heading to the hills to find answers to new questions, or at least have them pack out equipment! I know of some people and organizations in Alberta and Alaska who use detection dogs for conservation, and it’s shown to be very promising.”

VAST knows our female colleagues bring a perspective and approach to our team that enriches the creativity and insight of projects and acknowledges the significant contributions women have made throughout history to advancing science.




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