My Animal Behavior Internship at Service Dog Project, Ipswich, Massachusetts

A guest post by Maddie Dolan about her PSY 495 internship

Service Dog Project is a non-profit organization located in Ipswich Massachusetts that breeds, raises, trains, and donates Great Danes as mobility assistance service dogs. After volunteering there since Summer 2019, I was given the opportunity in Spring 2020 to participate in an internship.

My daily responsibilities as an intern included kennel maintenance such as cleaning kennels and doing dishes and laundry as well as general animal care such as feeding the dogs and various other farm animals on property, cleaning up after the dogs, and letting them outside to play. However, the part of my internship that was most exciting for me was the opportunity I was given to assist in the training of future service dogs.

Under the supervision and instruction of the head trainer, I was able to learn training techniques and use them to work with the three dogs that had been assigned to me. I worked with those three dogs- Elsa, Jasmine, and Cosmo (and additionally a fourth dog named Nala when the dogs needed temporary quarantine homes) on skills they will need in order to become successful service dogs in the future such as recall (the dog responds to their name and comes to you), down-stays, one-step walking (you step, the dog steps, one step at a time), look/eye contact, “get dressed” (their command to put their leash and vest on), pace (the dog walks next to you matching your pace), stairs, and under (the dog tucks underneath your legs or an object like a table).

Though I was not able to make as much progress as I may have wished with some dogs (especially since my internship was cut short with the COVID 19 pandemic), I was able to make more than I had anticipated. But either way, regardless of how much progress I made in training each of the dogs the opportunity to assist in doing so provided me not only with the opportunity to develop my own personal training skills but it also allowed me to be able to be a part of something amazing.

Since I started volunteering, I have seen 15+ dogs successfully graduate the program, become service dogs, and go on to change the lives of their handlers. Many of the individuals who are recipients of these dogs and many others who came before them often come back to volunteer at the farm which has given me the opportunity to both physically see how these dogs change peoples lives and allow them to “walk on” as SDP likes to say, as well as to speak with the recipients about their experiences having a service dog and how their dog helps them in ways that I might not be able to see.

Through my internship I have of course fallen in love with the individual dogs (there’s not much better than puppy kisses and Dane snuggles) but I have also fallen further in love with service dogs. Before beginning my internship I had long considered a career working with and possibly training service dogs, but I was never sure if it was the right path for me. This internship showed me that it is. Between the dogs themselves and the relationships I have built with them and seeing and hearing how recipients’ lives are changed when they are matched with their service dogs it has been an absolute joy and honor to have been able to be a part of something so special and life changing for so many. Nothing would make me happier than to be able to continue helping to change people’s lives using my passion for animals. My education as an Animal Behavior major at UNE along with this internship have given me the knowledge, experience and skills so that I am hopefully able to continue to do just that.

The Great Dane Service Dogs that come out of Service Dog Project are life altering for their recipients, but the experience of having been able to be a part of something so meaningful has been life changing for me as well.

Our thanks to Maddie for sharing her experience with us. All Animal Behavior majors complete at least one internship, PSY 495, as part of their degree and work closely with a faculty supervisor as part of the experience. For more information about the animal behavior major at UNE, please visit:

My Animal Behavior Internship at Ever After Mustang Rescue, Biddeford, Maine

A guest post by Miranda Bragan about her PSY 495 internship

For my internship in Spring 2020 I decided to volunteer at the Ever After Mustang Rescue right down the road from UNE. I choose to work there because horses are my absolute passion. Chances are that if you ask someone who knows me well enough they will tell you that I prefer horses to people, which isn’t necessarily wrong. I have been around horses almost my entire life because I started riding them and taking horseback riding lessons when I was three. Horses give me a sense of comfort and being at any barn really gives me a sense of peace and calmness. Everyone has a safe space where they feel safe, and for me it’s almost any barn. Growing up I was a fairly shy kid but being around horses brought out my confidence. Horses have taught and helped me with so much growing up that I wanted a chance to return the favor. When I first heard there was a mustang rescue only a few minutes away from school I was ecstatic and I instantly knew I wanted to go there and volunteer.

The barn relies heavily on donations to keep it running because it is a nonprofit organization. The biggest goal for the people who own the rescue is to find homes for all the horses that come through their barn doors. Right before I left for the semester I was actually told that two of their newer horses had serious adopters that were very interested in adopting them. I was sad to heard that the horses were leaving but I was so excited to hear that they may be going to a good forever home.

When I first started volunteering at the rescue I was fairly shy because it was a new place with new rules and new people. In the beginning I pretty much kept to myself and did what I was asked and when I was done I asked what they needed help getting done next. It took me a while to warm up to some of the other people volunteering at the rescue but they are all such nice people. They were all so welcoming and were happy to have a me volunteering with them. I think I became fairly close with them. We all loved the horses and working there and I was able to build several personal relationships while I was there. Being there reminded me of home and to me all of us working there became a part of a family.

When I started at the rescue I also didn’t know how much hands on work to expect to be doing with the horses since I was new there but I’m so glad that I was able to get the kind of experience I got while I was there. My supervisor knew that I had experience with horses so when I started doing even just the small stuff like letting them out to their pens in the morning, it was one of those feel good moments for me because I know they don’t let everyone take the horses out. I felt like I was a trusted person at the barn who knew how to act around horses, even though I made mistakes every now and then just like any human being does. Another feel good moment I had was when my supervisor asked me if I would be willing to feed the horses their hay in the morning when I was the first one there because not everyone at the rescue gets to do that. Some of the horses even have special hay that I had to give them.

My usual morning routine consisted with always getting there early, so usually I would have a chance to feed the horses. Then I would go through the outside pens and fill up the water buckets. Once my supervisor got there she would also have me put hay in all the outside pens then when I was done I would usually get to help her feed grain to all the horses. All the horses receive different amounts of grain and other supplements. Once they had eaten their grain I would put all the horses outside for the day. One of the horses that I would let out every morning. His name was Justin and there were a lot of things that spooked him like loud noises. It took a while for him to get use to me taking him out in the morning but when he started showing  that he was less scared of me, it felt like big win more me. Then I went to cleaning stalls, filling water buckets and putting hay and grain in the stalls so the horses would be all set when they were brought in for the night. Before we left the barn we almost always threw hay down from the loft and stacked it up below. Once I was getting the hang of things at the rescue my supervisor started having me work with the horses. There were two horses that I worked with for most of the time, Remington and Aeries. I was able to ride Remington once and spent most of my time working with him by lunging him, which was once of my biggest challenges at the rescue. When I worked with him my supervisor helped me a lot by showing me what to do and by talking me through it, giving me a lot of help. With Aeries, we worked mostly on a lot of groundwork with him through long lining, lunging, grooming, and taking him through obstacles. I also worked with another horse at the rescue a time or two named Sterling, with him I also took him through different obstacles. All of the horses at the barn have their own personalities which made working with them more enjoyable but I had to use different skills with different horses. When I was working with the horses I was able to apply a lot of what I had learned in several of my classes this year as well as my previous experience.

Through working at the rescue I used a lot of different personal and professional skills. My communication skills without a doubt grew and became stronger while I was working there. I was able to develop more than just professional relationships with the people I worked with. I created deeper and meaningful personal relationships because like I said earlier they became a family to me. I developed professional skills by always showing up on time and if there was a day I couldn’t come in because of a snow day, I would let my supervisor know first thing in the morning. When I went home on some weekends I would let my supervisor know in advance because it meant that I would not be there for one of my days of working, that way we could choose another day for earlier in the week for me to go in and work to make up my hours.

If there is anything that this experience has shown me, it is that without a doubt in my mind that I want to work with horses when I am done with school. Personally knowing what horses can do for people and seeing it, I want to be able to give those experiences to other people who could greatly benefit from it. These are all reason why I would like to be able to go into equine-assisted therapy because I know there is a great need for it back home where I live. For anyone who is looking for an internship, volunteer, work or just loves horses I would strongly recommend the Ever After Mustang Rescue. I cannot thank them enough for everything they have done for me over the semester.

Our thanks to Miranda for sharing her experience with us. All Animal Behavior majors complete at least one internship, PSY 495, as part of their degree and work closely with a faculty supervisor as part of the experience. For more information about the animal behavior major at UNE, please visit:

My Animal Behavior Internship at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge (RCNWR), Wells, Maine

A guest post by Luke Burns about his PSY 495 internship

My name is Luke Burns, I am a graduating Animal Behavior major with a minor in Environmental Studies. For the Spring of 2020, I interned with the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge (RCNWR) in Wells, Maine. My internship position was under the Refuge’s Wildlife Biologist, Jeffrey Tash, who had me on his team for his on-going New England Cottontail Restoration project. His office and funding was through the Wildlife Refuge, but most of our work was  happening at the Wells Reserve, which neighbored the refuge’s land on two sides.

Most of my work was collecting field data with/for Jeff. It started in January with primarily setting out and maintaining feeder sites and trail cams in the Wells Reserve. The above image is me standing over one of our four feeder sites that were set in the previous Winter. Each feeder site had a trail cam that I would swap batteries and SD cards to bring back and check trail cam photos with Jeff for rabbits or other animals (Deer, opossum, raccoons, predators). Also the ‘shell chamber” has a wooden floor and I would leave rabbit chow as an incentive and supplement for rabbits to eat, but these sites were not made to be reliable food sources. They were set to be attractive, but not relied on by any animal. Also in the Winter and early Spring I would look for rabbit tracks or signs in the snow (Browse, pellets, prints, fur). The feeder sites and camera were moved when predators were seen on trail cams and seemed to learn to stalk the sites waiting for rabbits. A Fisher was seen early March on cam and forced us to pick up the feeders.

Towards the end of my time on-site (Mid-March), I had an idea with Jeff to set out trail cams in more popular areas of the reserve without feeder sites, and see how much “traffic” there is without influence. As an idea of baseline data, we wanted to get an idea of population to see how the New England Cottontail population is growing this spring (2020). I may not see the results in person but I am staying in contact with Jeff and the Reserve after graduation. I also helped a small amount with many other aspects of the project off-site working with the public and private landowners in the surrounding towns.

My RCNWR internship was definitely a better experience than I was expecting and I’m thankful for the experience I had with it. The part that best helped me learn was seeing how multi-disciplined the project was as I became more involved with it. The project was bigger than just the Refuge and the Reserve. It reached many different town landowners and workers, several zoos in New England helped raise Cottontail kits, Maine and U.S. Fish and Wildlife were involved with land and species protection. To be in a position to see so many different people have a role in the project’s success was very interesting to learn about.

Also, I enjoyed being a part of a long-term project that may continue after my time involved and will continue to grow and succeed. I enjoyed knowing that my field work and data will be put into a larger source that will be used to help the general public. I feel after this internship that I would be more interested in finding work with a long-term project that I can help see succeed. Research was never something I seriously considered until starting here and it is something I could see myself doing going forward as a career.

Talking to my boss and his colleagues also showed me how important flexibility and strength in many fields would be important and useful going forward. There are many directions that field research can go into that I have not seriously considered like GIS, data analysis, and other qualitative skills. My position has seriously helped me grow and find a career path I would be excited to go down in the near future.

Our thanks to Luke for sharing his experience with us. All Animal Behavior majors complete at least one internship, PSY 495, as part of their degree and work closely with a faculty supervisor as part of the experience. For more information about the animal behavior major at UNE, please visit:

Want to know more about Dr. Stevenson? Here’s your chance!

Ravin Davis, a Neuroscience major here at UNE (class of ’21), recently wrote a fun piece for the Nor’Easter online student newspaper. The piece is our own Dr. Glenn Stevenson’s previous “lives” as a professional musician and hotel bartender. Dr. Stevenson is a Professor of Psychology and teaches courses for Neuroscience, Animal Behavior, and Psychology majors.

Ravin has been working with Dr. Stevenson in his research lab and will be promoted to lab manager next year.

Check out her amazing story here:

To learn more about the Neuroscience major, Dr. Stevenson’s work, and research opportunities available to students in the department, visit our website at:

My Animal Behavior Internship at Saco River Wildlife Center, Limington, Maine

A guest post by Ryann O’Carroll about her PSY 495 internship

After ‘completing’ my internship at Saco River Wildlife Center (SRWC), I reflected back on the “Student Learning Contract” I made at the beginning of the semester. The goals I outlined for myself focused on the job duties, expectations, what I hoped to gain, and how I would accomplish these goals throughout my internship. The following is what I conducted at my internship:

This position allowed for me to explore areas that concern wildlife and wildlife rehabilitation. I also had the opportunity to learn more about various scientific fields, including wildlife biology, animal behavior, wildlife ecology, animal husbandry, and veterinary science. I gained more experience in these fields by handling and coming in close proximity with wildlife species, such as raccoons, opossums, foxes, bats, squirrels, and much more. I also gained more knowledge about the various species’ diets, habitats, and conservation needs. Daily duties included hand-feeding baby mammals, monitoring animal conditions, habitat maintenance, administering medications (if needed), preparing food, laundry, and cleaning.

Reflecting back on this, this internship allowed me to handle (most species) and work in close proximity with raccoons, skunks, porcupines, opossums, woodchucks, fisher cats, foxes, coyotes, bats, squirrels, chipmunks, etc. It also allowed me to explore the field of wildlife rehabilitation much more closely. I found that as I progressed through my internship and I made more connections with the people working there, such as my supervisors – Beth Brown and Kevin Peterson – and two other volunteers, I was able to gain more knowledge in different fields, such as the behavioral aspects of the species I am working with, the ecological backgrounds of each species, how to care for each of these species individually, and how release techniques work for each species (I have not helped release an animal yet). While at the internship I was able to learn more about each species individual diet and the appropriate nutrition they need, how to clean each enclosure, clean dishes, do laundry, and monitor the species’ conditions.

This is what I was fully expecting to do at the beginning of this internship, and I was very pleased with how much hands-on experience I got to have at this internship as well with the various species we had. I also expected to gain more knowledge and experience within the field of wildlife rehabilitation, and this is exactly what my internship did for me. From this internship, my goal was to gain more experience and knowledge as I have just stated previously, and to work hands-on with different species to expand my experience even more.  I was able to accomplish these goals by being responsible, reliable, efficient, passionate, and dedicated to going to my internship each week, excited to learn and work more each time I went. This internship provided me with an opportunity I will never forget, something I will carry with me as I continue working towards my career goals and aspirations.

Skills I had hoped to learn at this internship were assessing incoming animals for injury, diseases, and dietary needs based off their age, properly cleaning and sterilizing equipment, toys, laundry, and dishes, feeding animals based off of their dietary needs, cleaning both inside and outside enclosures, providing enrichment for animals to aid in their release, and using proper PPE and safety equipment for my own, other’s, and the animal’s safety. These skills are all ones I have gained and worked on effectively throughout my time at my internship, being able to work closely with each species and giving them specific nourishment, enrichment, and care. Some of these skills are ones I already had due to working with so many different animals since being in high school, and others are ones I was able to easily pick up on. The skills I brought to this internship were sticking with a task until it’s done (persistence), thinking before I act, listening with understanding and empathy, thinking flexibly, good communication skills, working well and thoroughly with others and individually, being determined and motivated to accomplish the job asked of me, being responsible and accountable, and being able to apply my past experiences and knowledge to strengthen my passion, desire, and expertise for this field. With the skills I brought to this internship, along with the ones I had learned, I feel these skills were all accomplished and what made this internship such a great experience for me. Working in an environment that is always busy and has a variety of people coming in is a lot to walk into, especially when you do not know anyone else. Despite this, I was able to use these skills and learn others as I went along to accomplish what was asked of me at this internship and to make connections with others while working there.

I had planned to work at SRWC for the whole spring semester. Due to COVID-19, my internship was cut short. SRWC was a place I found to be de-stressing, relaxing, and enjoyable for me to go to as it is doing something I love and am passionate about. Once COVID-19 is over with, I am hoping to go and visit at SRWC because of the great connections and experiences I received from there. All in all, I would say the Student Learning Contract I created at the beginning of this internship was thoroughly fulfilled by meeting the goals, skills, and timeline I had addressed in it.

Having done this internship, I am going to continue with my future career goals and aspirations by starting a new internship at Maine Wildlife Park for the summer of 2020, which will focus on me developing novel enrichment techniques for the species at the park. I will also get to work in close proximity and have some hands-on experience with species there as well, which will in turn enhance my experience and expertise in the field of wildlife rehabilitation and conservation. I am hoping to discuss a possible job position with the supervisor at Maine Wildlife Park as I have a good connection with them as well from interning at SRWC; both of supervisors have brought animals needing rehabilitation to and from one another and have known one another for years. This internship turned into something much more than just an internship. SRWC is a place I was able to learn and gain more experience, enhance my expertise in the field, form strong connections and relationships with people there, and broaden my horizons to new work or internship opportunities I had not thought about before.

Our thanks to Ryann for sharing her experience with us. All Animal Behavior majors complete at least one internship, PSY 495, as part of their degree and work closely with a faculty supervisor as part of the experience. For more information about the animal behavior major at UNE, please visit:

Vienna Canright (ANB ‘ 22) receives Goldwater Scholarship

The Psychology Department faculty and staff are proud to announce that Vienna Canright, Animal Behavior major (class of ’22), has been selected to receive a 2020 Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

Vienna is interested in wildlife conservation and consistent with this, has been conducting research with Dr. Zach Olson, Associate Professor of Psychology and core faculty member in the Animal Behavior program. In one of her projects Vienna and Dr. Olson developed an experiment to test if a novel method of detecting bats using environmental DNA (eDNA) would work. In another project, Vienna and Dr. Olson explored eDNA detection of Northern bog lemmings. These collaborative projects has already been presented at a professional meeting and publications are in progress. Vienna has also previously conducted field work on seabirds on the west coast.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Goldwater Scholarship, here’s a brief description from their website:

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate.

By providing scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering, the Goldwater Foundation is helping ensure that the U.S. is producing the number of highly-qualified professionals the Nation needs in these critical fields. Over its 30-year history, Goldwater Scholarships have been awarded to thousands of undergraduates, many of whom have gone on to win other prestigious awards like the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Fellowship, Rhodes Scholarship, Churchill Scholarship and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship that support our Scholars’ graduate school work. Today, Goldwater alumni can be found conducting research that is helping defend the Nation, finding cures for catastrophic diseases and teaching future generations of scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

Only 396 college students from the United States were selected for Goldwater Scholarships this year, putting Vienna in very good company.

Dr. Olson nominated Vienna for the award and shared the following thoughts about her and her work:

Vienna came to the [research] work with ideas, a fantastic ability to organize and trouble shoot, and most importantly had the drive to see the work through. … I have been impressed by her poise, focus, and clear professionalism when it comes to both her classes and certainly her research. …. Vienna has an inquisitive nature, and my conversations with her have revealed a deep passion for wildlife conservation.

personal communication from Z. Olson

We congratulate Vienna for this amazing accomplishment and look forward to her work over the next two years here at UNE!

For more information about the Animal Behavior major and the research projects that faculty and students within our department are conducting, please visit

Why You should study Animal Behavior, Neuroscience, and Psychology at UNE!

Are you thinking about starting college soon? Trying to decide whether UNE might be the right home for you? Are you interested in Animal Behavior, Neuroscience, or Psychology?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you’re in the right place. We have three videos for you to learn from our current students about what they love about UNE and our majors. Watch just one or all three and learn about what make UNE an amazing place to be!

Animal Behavior Major

Watch Animal Behavior students and Dr. Zach Olson talk about their major here:

Neuroscience Major

Watch Neuroscience students and Dr. Glenn Stevenson talk about their major here:

Psychology Major

Watch Psychology students and Dr. Jennifer Steigler-Balfour talk about their major here:


Want to learn more about Psychology, Neuroscience, or Animal Behavior at UNE? Be sure to read more on our blog or visit our webpages:

Students in ANB, NEU, PSY, Art Therapy, and MHR sweep the awards!

On April 28, 2020, at the 2019-2020 University of New England Biddeford Campus Awards Ceremony, the winners of a number of university distinctions were announced. The faculty and staff of the Psychology Department are pleased to report that majors and minors from Animal Behavior, Neuroscience, Psychology, Art Therapy, and Mental Health Rehabilitation received 17 (yes seventeen!!) awards. In addition, 23 students were recognized for their induction into PSI CHI, the national honors’ society in Psychology.

I’d encourage you to watch the recorded Awards Ceremony to hear about the amazing accomplishments of these very talented students!

Here I’ll simply acknowledge each of the award winners and extend the congratulations of all the faculty and staff affiliated with the Psychology, Neuroscience, Animal Behavior, Art Therapy, and Mental Health Rehabilitation programs [awardees are listed in the order they were acknowledged in the award ceremony so you can skip ahead in the video if you’d like to hear the accolades for specific students].

Twenty-three students were recognized for their induction into PSI CHI, the national honors’ society in Psychology
Victoria Fitzpatrick, an Art Therapy minor, received the Outstanding Student Award for Art
Olivia Scott, an Art Therapy minor, received the Outstanding Student Award for Biological Sciences
No you aren’t seeing double! Olivia was also selected for the Outstanding Student Award for Environmental Science
Katy Lowe, a Neuroscience major, received the Outstanding Student Award for Biophysics
Grace Farrington, Psychology major and Mental Health minor, received the Outstanding Student Award for Philosophy
Hannah Christian, Psychology major and Mental Heath minor, received the Outstanding Student Award for Psychology
Cassie Trask, Neuroscience major and Mental Health minor, received the Outstanding Student Award for Neuroscience
Elissa Cady, Animal Behavior major, received the Outstanding Student Award for Animal Behavior
Another double winner! Grace Farrington, Psychology major and Mental Health minor, received the Outstanding Student Award for Women’s and Gender Studies
For the second year in a row, Tarryn Nutt, Animal Behavior major, received the Jessica Cox Henderson 1886 Award for Activism from the Women’s and Gender Studies Program
Meagan Accardi, Art Therapy minor, received the Senior Scholar-Athlete Award
Courtney Dumont, Animal Behavior minor, received the Global Education Award
Kylee Harrington, Neuroscience major, received the Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Award for Medicine and Public Health
WOW – our third double winner! Hannah Christian, Psychology major and Mental Health minor, received the Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Award for Social Sciences
Nicole Martin, Psychology major and Neuroscience minor, received the Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Award for Social Sciences
Aubrey Sahouria, Neuroscience, received the Sophomore Award for Academic Excellence
Mariah Berchulski, Neuroscience major, received the Junior Award for Academic Excellence

Congratulations to all of these winners and the many other students from our programs who were nominated for the awards this year!

To learn more about the Animal Behavior, Neuroscience, Psychology, Art Therapy, and Mental Health Rehabilitation programs, please visit our website at:

Prof Perazio spends time with humpback whales in the Gulf of Tribugá

A guest post by Professor Christina Perazio, Assistant Lecturer

When I’m not teaching students about killer whale ecotypes, tool use in animals, or how to design a valid research study, you can find me recording and analyzing the acoustic behavior of humpback whales. This past 2019 summer field season marked the 7th and final year of data collection towards my dissertation investigating long-term and global changes in humpback whale song.

Through collaborations with Macuáticos Colombia and the PHySIC Project (Ports, Humpbacks, y Sound in Colombia), I have been recording humpback whales since 2013 in their breeding grounds along the Pacific coast of Colombia. This distinct population segment (DPS) of humpback wales migrates north from Antarctica and southern Chile to breed in waters off the coast of Colombia and Panama. Song has long been suggested to be a complex vocal display used by males to increase mating success, although many specific hypotheses have been proposed and debated in the literature. Along with my colleagues, our team has been the first to publish on the song of stock G in the Colombian Pacific using over-the-side and bottom-mounted hydrophones (underwater microphones used to record vocalizations of both whales and dolphins).

The Gulf of Tribugá is one of the remaining pristine marine habitats for humpback whales and has recently been listed as a Hope Spot by Mission Blue due to its biodiversity. With the proposed construction of a marine port in the locality of Tribugá by the Colombian government, this habitat is being threatened. Along with my colleagues I am trying to better understand how humpback whales might be able to flexibly change their acoustic behavior in response to inevitable changes in their environment by understanding the role that song plays in their lives.

Check out @physicolombia or @macuaticos for more information!

You can learn more about whales, other marine mammals, and other animals in general as part of the Animal Behavior major and minor. Check out our webpages at

Dr. Zach Olson publishes on free-roaming cats in the journal Wildlife Research

Congratulations to Dr. Zach Olson who recently published a journal article in the journal Wildlife Research ( Dr. Olson and his collaborators studied free-roaming house cats – both where they occur on the landscape and how numerous they were. Free-roaming cats are important to study because they are one of the leading killers of birds and small mammals where they exist (here’s a popular press article describing ‘outdoor’ cat impacts:

The study found that the most important predictor of free-roaming cat presence in a given natural study site was that site’s proximity to human housing and not more natural measures of habitat quality. We can draw two conclusions from that information: 1) free-roaming cats aren’t existing on the landscape like a wild population or a wild species. Rather, they are likely being subsidized (either fed or housed) by people, and 2) the problem that outdoor cats cause in the ecosystem is not likely to be solved using traditional tools of wildlife conservation. Instead, if we want to solve the feral cat problem, we need to convince people to change their behavior and keep their house cats inside.

Be sure to check out the article at the link provided above for more information. If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Olson’s work, check out his bio at:

UNE undergraduates who have interested in engaging in research with Dr. Olson can contact him at Learn more about the Animal Behavior major and minor (Dr. Olson is the program coordinator for these programs at

You can also read the university’s press release about this at