Toni is a Wildlife Research Scientist with the Selway Institute
Toni K. Ruth is a Wildlife Research Scientist with the Selway Institute established and directed by Dr. Maurice Hornocker. As a young girl, Toni grew up in the outdoors, frequently going on family camping and fishing trips and often spent time reading while perched in the top of an oak tree. Her high school hopes of becoming a marine
biologist evolved into a Bachelor’s of Science degree in wildlife from the School of Forest and Resource Conservation at the University of Florida. Soon after her experience on the Panther Project, Toni began research investigating cougar behavior in and near human recreational development in Big Bend National Park. This research resulted in a
Master’s degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University and provided an alternative management plan for cougars in Big Bend National Park. Between 1998 and
2006, she was the project leader researching the effects of wolf reestablishment on the cougar population in Yellowstone National Park.
"My biggest thrills still come from finding a cougar track in the snow, desert sand, or mud and knowing that a cougar could be watching me nearby!” -Toni Ruth, Wildlife Research Scientist
Since then, she has studied cougar populations in Texas, New Mexico, Montana, and Idaho. She previously worked with the Hornocker Wildlife Institute for 11 years and the Wildlife Conservation Society for 5 years. Toni oversees two graduate student projects and served on the steering committee for the 9th Mountain Lion Workshop in May 2008. She also serves as Secretary of the Board for the non-profit Salmon Valley Stewardship, a group that works to promote a healthy environment and a sustain-able economy in Lemhi County, Idaho.
Toni is currently working on analyzing data, writing manuscripts, and writing a book on cougar ecology and interactions with other carnivores in the Northern Yellowstone Ecosystem. She hopes to continue working on integrated multispecies approaches to provide sound scientific research on which to base conservation decisions in human dominated landscapes, as well as to make educational contributions at a local and community level. Toni feels “connected to the communities I have lived in through my knowledge of cougars and what they have taught me. Interestingly, my life has mirrored my initial fascination at the variety of habitats cougars are adapted to. In this regard I have been fortunate to study them in these various environs. My biggest thrills still come from finding a cougar track in the snow, desert sand, or mud and knowing that a cougar could be watching me nearby!”