|Who is Joanne Hutlet?|
Joanne was raised on a farm with 3 sisters, 2 brothers and a whole lot of farm cats. She also lived beside Spruce Woods Forest, which had abundant wildlife. Her parents took their children for many hikes in the forest, so they quickly became nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.
Joanne's father, a farmer and Natural Resources Park worker would bring home stories of seeing lynx and possibly cougar while working in the forest. Friends and relatives who lived in the Tiger Hills districts and near the Pembina Valley chain often spoke of seeing cougars, so Joanne grew up strongly believing that they existed in Manitoba.
Joanne began studying the mountain lion in general at a young age. After graduating with her Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba, and upon reading about research in MANITOBA'S BIG CAT by Dr.Bob Wrigley and Dr. Bob Nero, she became determined to continue their research of cougar/mountain lion in Manitoba.
Joanne pursued her Masters Degree in Natural Resources Management, choosing to research the Manitoba Mountain Lion as her thesis. This turned out to be a very challenging goal. The only physical proof of cougar/mountain lion existence in Manitoba at that time was one killed in 1973. All other sightings and evidence were not considered fact. Although her classmates received grants for their study on other animals, reptiles and birds, Joanne was not able to find any funding or grants for researching an animal that lacked physical evidence of its existence. It was like giving a grant for a ghost. Still, Joanne believed in her research and battled on with her own funds.
With the encouragement of Wrigley and Nero, her Faculty Advisor, Merlin Shoesmith and committee members, Rick Baydack, Wrigley and Mike Campbell, and her loving family, Joanne continued her research and turned out an astonishing thesis, which is now in the University of Manitoba and is the only thesis to this date in the U of M on cougar research.
As Joanne was going into the final 2 years of her Masters Degree, 2 cougar were killed in Manitoba.This was followed by other sightings with photographs and kills in the next few years. Suddenly, many people were aware of cougar existence and for Joanne, it was a bitter-sweet quiet victory. Their research and belief for so many years in resident Manitoba cougars had finally been taken seriously. But of course, Joanne wished the cougars were also still alive roaming Manitoba.
Joanne continues her research and interest in managing the cougar in Manitoba. Her website, THE MANITOBA MOUNTAIN LION-WILDCAT WATCH is one of her projects. Joanne also has recently completed getting her "Wildlife Rehabilitation Certificate". Joanne has always been concerned about the wildcats health and safety, which to her, is a priority.
Joanne is also an avid athlete/sportswoman. She is currently a Masters Springboard and Tower Diver, and competes in World Masters competitions all over the USA, Canada, Australia, etc. She won Gold at the World Masters Games for Diving, won three Silvers at the Masters Pan Am Championships, and has competed in the World Masters Aquatic Championships as well. She is training to test for her 4th Degree Black Belt in taekwondo in the future years to come, and has run 8 FULL Marathons as of 2014. You can be sure she checks out wildlife reserves and does cougar research in every location. She loves many other activities and sports as well. "VLH"
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