Former wildlife biologist, turned naturalist preaches ecology and mindfulness

PARK CITY, Utah. — Long-time Park City resident, Pat Schirf, has watched his hometown grow from a small, laid-back ski community to the busy, exclusive vacation destination it is today. That growth, however, presents its own unique challenges to the local ecosystem, and Pat wants to help.

“So many people have moved here recently, and I’m willing to bet a lot of them haven’t spent much time in nature. I want to provide those people information about our natural environment here in Park City so they can be more comfortable and respectful when they’re in the outdoors. Ultimately, I want to help them to shift their lifestyles so they can bring nature back into the center of their decisions and their lives.”

Growing up in Park City with the mountains at his doorstep, Pat was always fascinated with wildlife and animal behavior. This led him to earn a degree in zoology and wildlife behavior from the University of Western Washington before moving on to working with fish and wildlife agencies in Hawaii, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Alberta. However, working in the field ultimately led to its disillusionment for him.

“After working in wildlife management for seven years, I no longer saw a future in that space due to states’ wildlife management practices, in particular the management of predators.”

Pat witnessed a pattern among wildlife management agencies to grow herds of deer and elk for hunters while aggressively limiting competition from predators. True to his point, on May 7th, the Idaho state legislature passed a law that could allow the slaughter of up to 90 percent of the state’s wolf population with the intention of protecting ranchers’ cattle and boosting elk and deer numbers for hunters.

“I want people to know how interconnected everything is,” Pat said. “How when you’re gardening or trying to control the rodent population on your property, you’re having a profound impact on everything else.”

Pat can be found leading wildlife tracking groups for The Lodge at Blue Sky and recently taught a class on “Ecology and Mindfulness” at the Summit Community Gardens. Follow his Instagram account @pschirf for more info on upcoming classes.

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