Cara Meinke is a Wildlife Biologist/Consulting Ecologist and Senior Project Manager for WEST and has over 20 years of experience designing, implementing, and reporting the results of ecological investigations. She received her B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from the University of Vermont in 1998 and an M.S. in Wildlife from the Humboldt State University in 2004. Cara’s current work for WEST is focused on developing and implementing methods to assess impacts from the operation of renewable energy facilities to bat and bird species listed under the Endangered Species Act and developing innovative approaches to minimizing and mitigating those impacts. She has been the lead preparer of multiple Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) for federally listed bats and birds, including the biological portions of the Midwest Regional HCP.
Cara has also managed and performed pre-construction and post-construction studies focused on assessing impacts to birds and bats at wind power projects throughout the United States, including threatened and endangered species surveys, migratory bird surveys using marine radar, acoustic bat surveys, breeding bird surveys, bat mist-netting and harp trapping, bat hibernacula and swarm surveys, raptor surveys, and ecological community characterizations. Cara’s career in ecological consulting started in 2004 when she formed a successful woman-owned consulting firm, Oxbow Environmental, whose work focused on collecting ecological data to indicate the direction and magnitude of natural resource trends in the Middle Owens River, California as they relate to wildlife and their habitat and that will help guide management prescriptions over time for the Middle Owens River.
Prior to her career in ecological consulting, Cara conducted academic research on a variety of wildlife species in diverse regions of the US. She began her career in 1996 working in Yellowstone National Park on a study investigating the effects of wolf reintroduction on coyote behavior and demographics. She also worked on a wolf study in Ninemile Valley, Montana, a coyote predation study for UC Davis in Hopland, California, and did her Master’s research on mountain lion habitat use relative to human activity in Redwood National Park, California. Her research focus then shifted to greater sage-grouse and sagebrush-associated species in the Intermountain while working for the USGS BRD Snake River Field Station. Cara has published multiple scientific journal articles and book chapters.