A group that's dedicated 50 years to wildlife rehabilitation and environmental issues is celebrating.

The Cochrane Ecological Institute will hold it's 50th Anniversary Celebration in conjunction with their 2nd annual symposium on March 11th at the Cochrane Ranchehouse.

The Institute's president Clio Smeeton says the symposium's theme is "Wilderness, Wildlife and Human Interaction: Finding Common Ground."  Smeeton is excited about the internationally renowned experts they've lined up as speakers.

"Suzanne West is the owner of an oil company called Imaginea Energy.  She is in the forefront of showing that you can produce oil and gas sustainably and without wrecking the environment or losing jobs.  Mike McIntosh is someone who has spoken in Russia about bears, and there are many other great speakers."

Smeeton says the day promises to be a lot of fun for anyone who attends.  

"In the lunch hour we'll have 28 Bow Valley Fiddlers all fiddling madly.  Then we're having a gala dinner with two improv comics and a silent auction and balloon raffle. We really want people to enjoy themselves."

One of the proudest accomplishments of the institute has been their efforts to reestablished the swift fox.  Smeeton says in 1978 the swift fox was on the list of extinct animals in Canada. Through their breeding program, the Cochrane Ecological Institute released their first swift foxes in 1983 and by 1997 had successfully re-established them in Canada.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.cochraneresearch institute.org or www.ceinst.org. Tickets purchased by February 25th get a discount.  

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