PORTLAND - The Northwest Consortium for Wildlife Conservation Research will hold its first annual conference on Oct. 18 in Portland to explore ways that members can improve communication and collaborative research efforts.

The conference is being hosted by the Oregon Zoo, one of the consortium partners along with Oregon State University and the Wildlife Safari in Winston, Ore.

Among the topics to be discussed are molecular technologies for wildlife conservation, zoo veterinary medicine, and various species conservation projects. Reed Noss, president of the Society for Conservation Biology, will give the keynote address at the conference.

"A strong regional linkage among zoo, wildlife and academic institutions facilitates research, teaching and veterinary conservation efforts on regional, national and international levels" said Dr. Ursula Bechert, director of the consortium and faculty member in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine.

Individuals from more than 10 different organizations in Oregon participate as members and through this conference it's anticipated that membership will further expand into Washington state, Bechert said.

Formed last year with a grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, this consortium is oriented to wildlife conservation but also serves roles in student education. Projects already under way include treating elephants with anti-inflammatory drugs, examining the nutrition and reproduction of elk, and exploring why black bears don't get heart disease.

Bechert recently traveled to Botswana and South Africa to explore possibilities for joint research there, and will soon travel to Thailand and Nepal for the same reason.

"Opportunities for collaboration are great because of the broad range of scientific expertise within the consortium," she said.

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Ursula Bechert, 541-737-6386