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Steeve Côté

Long-term study

For this project, the way we work is that while I’m here each year, there are also many graduate students who join the project. They usually come to spend three or four months. Some return over several years. The students must be able to immerse themselves in the land, so they can ask the right questions and also understand the scope of their projects. In the first weeks they have to walk, go to the most locations possible, try to immerse themselves in the study area, find the animals’ habitats and also sit for many hours and observe the animals, simply to build a repertory of their behaviour. We see them, they just emerged. Two of them are emerging below the nice spot. From a science perspective, it’s now a project that is better established than it was back then, and with 15 to 18 years of data, I can ask questions that almost no one can ask, because you must have animals tagged for 15 years to answer these questions. So the number of questions for me is almost infinite. The only little problem hanging over the study area, one that’s nearly always existed, is that we’re in a coal region. And there’s a coal mine nearby. So it’s getting closer. There are some interests that are always there, it’s cyclical. Some years the threat is greater, while other years it’s less. It depends on the market.

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Steeve Côté

Captivating creatures

Steeve Côté hails from the region of Rimouski, Quebec. At an early age, he became interested in nature and animals by visiting the shores of the Saint Lawrence River. Today, this research professor is passionate about the behavioural ecology of vertebrates and the biology of conservation.

He loves his work, which offers him a multitude of subjects to study and contacts with the animal world. For him, the real classroom, the real laboratory, is in the field. Of all the  projects he’s undertaken so far, studying the mountain goats of Caw Ridge, Alberta has been the most fascinating, and the one into which he’s put the most effort.

Up in the rocky mountains

In the mountains around Caw Ridge, a few hundred kilometres north of Jasper National Park, biologist Steeve Côté devotes his career to the study of mountain goats, the first-ever project of its kind. “What I found fascinating with the mountain goat is its aggressive character, especially among females, who can attack their fellow goats three or four times an hour.”

To keep an eye on his subjects, Steeve has returned to the heart of the Alberta Rockies every summer since 1994, accompanied by some of his students. “The goal of the study is to follow individuals from birth to death, so we can study their reproductive strategy and document the impact of decisions they make early in life on their later evolution.”

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Par Renee Ciulla, 2016-10-21, 07h13

Hi Steve, Are you still working with mountain goats in Alberta or elsewhere? I am very interested in volunteering if it's at all possible...I have 4 months off from teaching every summer (UMass Amherst) and would love to chat about whether there might be any opportunities. I'm 35 yrs old...lived in Montana for years and have always dreamed of doing some work related to mountain goats, by far my favorite animal... Thanks, Renee --- Renee Ciulla Instructor of Sustainable Food and Farming Stockbridge School of Agriculture University of Massachusetts Amherst

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