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Projects in Progress

Behavioral Characteristics of Wolves in the Wild

In May 2000, Gary Woodward, of Christ the King Regional High School won an award for his project entitled Behavioral Characteristics of Wolves in the Wild. He recorded the (1)physical appearance of wolves,(2) their track characteristics and (3) their kill characteristics in the Northern Rockies based upon his review of the literature. He developed the hypotheses that, "Since dogs are the same genus as wolves, they must share similar characteristics and traits with each other." He also provided data on the same three characteristics in coyotes and dogs based upon his review of the literature.

Gary Woodward then went to Alaska and met with two state park rangers who are currently working on wolf restoration there. He followed a pack of wolves for three days and recorded every action of theirs including eating, sleeping and hunting. His next step will be to carry out an observational study of dogs on dogs. He will then compare his review of the literature and his personal findings to find out whether his hypothesis is valid.

Does Taking Care of a Pet Decrease an Elderly Person's Depression?

In May 2000, Jennifer Vourlos of Staten Island Technical High School won an award for her project entitled Does Taking Care of a Pet Decrease an Elderly Person's Depression? The purpose of her study is to compare the depression rate of elderly persons who take care of pets and elderly persons who do not take care of pets. It was hypothesized that elderly persons who take care of pets are more likely to have a lower rate of depression than elderly persons who do not take care of pets.

She conducted an extensive review of the literature which "reveled the healing effects of pets, which scientists ascribe to the uncomplicated nature of human-pet reactions. Pets are non-threatening, give the elderly responsibility, and draw the elderly people out from their depressive states (Mauro 33)....Recent studies have also implied that there is an increased risk of depression in elderly patients (Miller)."

The next steps will include use of the Geriatric Depression Scale(GDS), preparation of a survey including the GDS and questions about pet ownership, conducting the survey at various senior citizen clubs, statistically analyzing data and obtaining conclusions.