Information for Researchers

To facilitate research, a flow chart and forms package are available to help those interested ensure ease of planning and conducting research at the ranch. Timelines have been suggested for activities, however, certain projects may have unique requirements. This is why an essential component of research at the ranch is early communication and planning with the ranch director and ranch management to ensure all needs are met. 


  • Be sure to align research with the guiding principles of the ranch and the ranch policies and procedures, including ranch costs. Engage with the ranch director and ranch management early in the development of ideas and research projects. W.A. Ranches Resource Request Form has been developed to help researchers develop their ideas and is required to support initial discussions with the ranch director and ranch management.
  • Approval by the ranch director is required prior to any funding submissions (e.g. LOI). The ranch director may also be able to provide letters of support for funding applications.
  • Projects will be prioritized based on a combination of alignment with ranch strategy, timing of research submission to ranch management and resource availability. Coordination of research activities amongst interested parties is encouraged to facilitate efficient use of resources and collaboration. Researchers are encouraged to discuss faculty collaborations with the UCalgary Associate Dean of Research for their department or to contact the ranch director, Dr. Ed Pajor.
  • Ensure that the ranch director is informed of all funding decisions, positive or negative, to facilitate resource planning.
  • All research must complete a MOU for use of ranch animals that is to be submitted with animal care protocols as a part of completing permits and approvals (W.A. Ranches Memorandum of Understanding for Research and Teaching)
  • A forms package is available to assist with common forms required for research activities
  • All projects involving the use of animals requires UCalgary approval of animal use protocols (AUP) via IRISS, and those involved with these protocols are required to complete the Institutional Animal User Training Program at the University of Calgary, which may involve hands-on species specific training, prior to the start of the project. Part of completing the animal care protocols for use of W.A. Ranches animals includes submitting W.A. Ranches Memorandum of Understanding for Research and Teaching form within the IRISS system. For visiting researchers, the Animal Care Committee at the UofC will review the home institution’s protocol and approvals and may seek a full application at the University of Calgary, clarification and/or revisions if necessary. Approval from both institutions ACCs is necessary as per CCAC guidelines. If funding is administered through the UCalgary then a University of Calgary IRISS Animal Use Protocol is required.
  • For research involving W.A. Ranches cattle, once approved, animal care protocol numbers are also used for animal tracking and certain types of data collection within the ranch herd data management system. Researchers must fill out the “W.A. Ranches HerdTrax Information Collection” and discuss details with the ranch director and management during project planning. Information for the study summary can be copied from animal care protocols as appropriate.
  • Wildlife Research Permit and Collection License: Questions can be emailed to AEP.WildResPermits@gov.ab.ca
  • For activities to be conducted on lease lands contact Brendan Kowalenko at Alberta Environment and Parks (Brendan.Kowalenko@gov.ab.ca). See this table for approval processes for research, education, outreach activities on provincial lease land.
  • Researchers are required to work with the ranch director and management to ensure that necessary permits are completed and documented appropriately prior to commencement of any research at the ranch
  • If your research involves access to the physical sites at W.A. Ranches, you must plan accordingly.
    • Be aware of biosecurity policies and procedures for people and equipment.
    • Access within the ranch is limited to road access for vehicle traffic, within pastures is only accessible via ranch research UTV or foot. No other vehicle traffic is permitted in order to maintain pasture quality and biosecurity. Use of the W.A. Ranch research UTV must be coordinated with ranch management and requires that UTV drivers have completed the required training at their own expense (i.e. training is not provided nor compensated by the ranch). Copies of training certification are required to be submitted to designated ranch representative prior to arrival of ranch. Vehicle access (e.g. keys) will not be permitted without this documentation.
    • For research and teaching involving access at lease sites, wildlife awareness training is required for group leaders that will be present during the activity. Approved wildlife awareness training is at the cost of the user.
  • A field level hazard assessment (FLHA) is required for temporary worksites, mobile worksites, and for non-routine work. This form must be completed before work begins, communicated to each affected employee onsite and implemented.
    • If the activity involves the Ranch staff, ensure to include them in the FLHA for alignment on hazards and controls.
    • Original FLHA are to be kept in either the Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) binder for the department or the Laboratory safety manual for the Principle Investigator for the research activity. If ranch staff are included in the FLHA, a copy must be given to ranch management for record keeping in their OHSMS binder.
    • Field Level Hazard Assessment (FLHA)
  • A field communication plan is required when employees leave campus. It describes modes of transportation, participant contact information and emergency contact list.
  • For assistance filling out the FLHA or communication plan, contact Environment, Health and Safety.
  • Medical Aid requirements are detailed here.
  • Prior to starting research at the ranch, all members of the research team that will be present at the ranch are required to review the general ranch orientation with their designated ranch representative, as well as an in-person safety orientation at the site of research within the ranch. All UCalgary employees are required to sign off upon review of material.
  • Please complete "Study Summary and Emergency Contacts" and submit to ranch office prior to commencing work at the ranch. For studies involving animals, information for the study summary can be copied from animal care protocols as appropriate.
  • All applicable components for preparing for an approved research project must be completed prior to commencing research
  • Biosecurity protocols for people and equipment must be followed.
  • Visitors must check in with their designated ranch representative each day when they arrive and leave the ranch for emergency communication management. Researchers are required to complete the Visitor Log at the home ranch office daily, unless other biosecurity tracking measures have been arranged with ranch management.
  • Researchers are encouraged to maintain communication with ranch management throughout their project.
  • Researchers must follow the ranch policies and procedures throughout their research at the ranch.

W.A. Ranches wishes to ensure continued support for the ranch and those who use our facility by showcasing their work, as appropriate. Following your visit to W.A. Ranches, we will follow up requesting additional information that can be included in our Annual Report and in informational material.

  • Project leaders will be provided with the Post Visit Information Template document, which requests the following information:
    • A brief report summarizing your activities, including (for example) research objectives, field school objectives, any preliminary findings;
    • Photos, video, or other media that can be used in annual reports online and for other purposes;
    • Notifications and links to (or electronic copies of) any publications resulting from your work at WA Ranches, including notifications of successful thesis defense, and feedback on your visit to WA Ranches.