The CEI Mandate

The Cochrane Ecological Institute / Cochrane Wildlife Reserve Society is devoted to the preservation and conservation of cultural and biological diversity through
education; the reintroduction of extirpated flora and fauna; rescue, rehabilitation,
and release of injured and orphaned wildlife; monitoring and research.

CEI Grounds

The CEI is set in 160 acres of pristine natural mixed grass prairie habitat. The property is surrounded by two miles of 8' game fence, with ground wire underlie, and an 4' overhang. The vegetation comprises indigenous grasses, aspen and poplar bluffs, and spruce woodland. There are considerable areas of bog, and wetlands, with two large natural bodies of open water and smaller man made ponds.

The wildlife on CEI land is indigenous to the country. The Fall, mid to late September, is a particularly good time to visit the CEI.

Our Bear Facilities

For the rehabilitation of black bears we have a well treed 3.5 acre enclosure containing a transportable den built for hibernation. This transportable den can be used for winter releases.

In a winter release the den is transported to the selected release site and left there, in the spring the bears wake up from their hibernation and come out of the den, in their own time, to find themselves in a new world!

We were fortunate, for our 2006 bear release, to be allowed to winter release our bears on federal land near Cold lake Alberta. this is a protected area with no bear hunting for our bears are very lucky bears! Once the bears have left their transport/hibernation den, the den is winched back onto the trailer and brought back to CEI by Alberta Fish & wildlife department. All CEI bear releases are undertaken in partnership with the Alberta fish & Wildlife department. Previous bear releases have been undertaken in the late Summer when wild food sources are plentiful, but with increased oil and gas exploration and increased logging it is getting harder and harder to find areas to release bears where they will not come into contact with people. That is why we are so appreciative of DND’s offer to accept more rehabilitated wildlife if the protected habitat at Cold Lake is suitable.

Interpretive Centre:

The CEI Interpretive Centre is of straw bale construction. It is 50' x 35' in size, with a large Gallery area, Kitchen, and toilet. There is a deep 12' veranda around the outside of the building. The Interpretive centre is used for seminars, Gallery exhibitions, musical and dance events. The CEI Interpretive Centre can be rented for private functions. There is ample parking.

Research Library:

For 20 years the CEI has been accumulating books and publications of wildlife management, endangered species management, natural history, botany, zoology, biology, parasitology, including a wide range of books on travel, and first hand accounts of explorers of North America and other countries. The Library costs of well over 5,000 books and more continue to be added every year.

Wildlife Facilities

The CEI wildlife facilities consist of 23 single pair breeding enclosures for swift fox, each measuring 30 X 65 meters in size. There is a 20 acre group enclosure for swift fox and a smaller 2.5 acre group enclosure. There are 14 Department of Agriculture approved quarantine enclosures.

mixed-grass Montane habitat

The CEI uses its 160 acres of mixed-grass Montane habitat for the of orphaned/injured and rehabilitated moose, deer and elk. The CEI also has a small bison herd. Originally, at the turn of the last century, the 160 acres of CEI land was deeded to the Canadian Pacific railroad, CPR., by the federal government. the CPR put a pond in at the headwaters of the Horse Creek (Horse creek spring is on CEI land) but otherwise made no changes in the land. In the 1920’s CPR sold the land to a family of ranchers, Mr. & Mrs. Viney. The Vineys never logged or farmed the 160 acres where the CEI now is, this was because much of the land was swampy or heavily wooded, and the Vineys considered it unsuitable for farming. So, for the next 35 years the 160 acres remained unchanged. In 1964, the Smeeton’s bought the land from the Vineys. And, apart from building the main house and digging a well, left the land as it was. As result the land of the CEI is one of the last remaining areas of truly unspoiled native vegetation left in the area.

60' X 40' X 25' aviary

For Birds, the CEI facilities consist of a 60' X 40' X 25' aviary designed and built for housing owls. This aviary was built by NORTEL employees as a team building exercise. THANK YOU NORTEL!

Water Bodies

The CEI is also on a migratory flight path, so in Spring and Fall migratory waterfowl make extensive use of the CEI Water Bodies, it is also the perfect release location for rehabilitated waterfowl and other wildlife.


the Animal Health Centre

consisting of food preparation area, walk-in freezer, offices, and treatment cages and two aquatic enclosures for waterfowl.

The Main

housing private quarters, research library, workshop.

The wildlife nursery building

containing a specifically designed wildlife nursery facility.