University of Alberta mourns loss of wildlife expert

(Edmonton) University of Alberta wildlife expert Bob Hudson died Aug. 17.

Hudson had retired last year, after a 36-year career as a wildlife-management scientist. He had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, after having successfully fought cancer for the better part of a decade.

“True to the spirit that he showed throughout his life, Bob remained positive, never complaining, to the end,” said John Kennelly, dean of the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences. “Bob certainly was a wonderful role model to his colleagues and students and no words can describe the feeling of grief and loss at his passing.”

Hudson had held a joint appointment between the departments of renewable resources and agricultural, food and nutritional science and retired while also serving as associate dean (International), a job for which he was, says Kennelly, a natural fit given his international experience and knowledge.

He developed an interest in wildlife while growing up in Manitoba.

“I was always interested in wildlife, particularly waterfowl, because they were close at hand, but I always dreamed of working with something larger and more dramatic,” he said in an interview last year upon his retirement.

That dream led him to Africa when in the late 1970s, where he was invited to serve as a senior ecologist for the World Bank Very Large Herbivore Study, which examined elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotami and buffaloes, among other large mammals.

“It opened an academic adventure that changed my view of wildlife management and, indeed, of life forever,” he said.

Hudson came to the U of A from the University of British Columbia in 1974 and took a position as an assistant professor in animal science. He excelled and became a full professor in 1985. From there, Hudson’s career quickly evolved beyond research and into administration as he served as associate dean (academic/international) for the faculty from 1996 to 2001. In 2007, he took over as the associate dean (international).

Throughout the different roles he filled, Hudson always maintained his research in areas such as multi-species systems and wildlife production.

Kennelly said that Hudson was a visionary.

“He was ahead of his time in so many ways. He understood that we lived in an interconnected world, that we had a responsibility towards ensuring the sustainability of our planet and that we had an obligation to reach out and help those who were less privileged.”

Kennelly added that Hudson had a particularly valued member of the faculty’s executive team, as he was a man not only of action, but also great ideas.

Hudson is survived by his wife Yasmin and their daughters Suraya and Tasreen.

A memorial service will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 23 at 2 p.m. at the Connelly-McKinley Sherwood Park – Mill Woods Chapel at 4820 Meridian Street.

- with additional files from Alexandria Eldridge