Application, Entry Link and Judges

If you're an inventor ready to jump into the grizzly den with your design ideas here's your chance to  win UP TO $10,000 to take your idea to the next step! Fill out the Rules & App Process Form and Application from the links below to start the process. The winning design will be announced mid-summer 2024.




The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center (GWDC) is hosting the Kirk Horn Memorial Inventor’s Challenge (the “Inventor’s Challenge”) to promote new ideas for products that reduce human conflicts with bears or wolves. The Purpose of the Inventor’s Challenge is to help advance promising ideas in development and help inventors who may not otherwise have the financial means to bring their idea to commercial realization. Each entry should reflect an understanding of a specific bear or wolf conflict issue and how your entry will reduce that conflict. Your proposed design or invention should have the potential to be manufactured, scalable and made publicly available.



The Inventor’s Challenge is only open to residents of the United States, District of Columbia, and US Territories. 

The Inventor’s Challenge is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws. The Inventor’s Challenge is void where prohibited by law. 

Employees, Board members, and volunteers of the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, and their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, and their immediate families (spouse, parent, child, sibling, and their respective spouses and those living in the same household of each employee, whether or not related), and all others associated with the development and execution of this Inventor’s Challenge and their immediate families are not eligible to participate in the Inventor’s Challenge.

Criteria for Entry and Award
  • No purchase is necessary to enter.
  • An award of up to $10,000 is available, but the amount issued will be determined by the judges based on the skill level, innovation, and relevancy to the Purpose the potential product design or invention incorporates.
  • Chance is not an element of the competition.
  • Applicants must be at least 18 years of age to enter. Inventor's less than 18, must represented by an adult guardian.
  • Entries may be submitted by an individual or team. In case of a team entry, all team members must meet entry criteria and each member must be represented in the application.
  • Preference will be given to applicants who have not already received financial or technical support from companies or organizations currently engaged in producing and/or marketing bear or wolf conflict mitigation products. Applicants must disclose any institutional funding (venture capital, private equity, hedge funds, corporate funds, etc.) or non-institutional funding (contest prizes, grants, loans, etc.) that they have received or utilized in the development of their invention or product.
  • Entries cannot consist of or contain a product already marketed by the entrant, or in final stages of development to be made available for consumption.
  • All work must be the original intellectual property of the entrant. Entries should be novel approaches to a conflict situation, a novel product, or a significant and novel improvement on existing product or technology.
  • Proposed product must not cause injury to target or non-target animals.
  • The Inventor’s Challenge supports projects that engage diverse communities and integrates equity and inclusion. Every inventor’s intellectual property is protected and the GWDC or its Board will not own any rights, titles, liabilities or financial interests in its future development. 
  • Each entrant’s name, image, and description of their invention may be used by GWDC’s marketing, educational, or promotional materials to further GWDC’s mission without limitation and without further payment, notification, permission, or other considerations. Please note, GWDC’s promotional efforts could include the use of entrant’s name, image, and description on GWDC’s social media channels, website, blog, and press releases sent to local and national publications.
  • Cash awards are taxable and must be reported to the IRS. By accepting the award, the Inventor’s Challenge winner will receive a 1099 form for the total value of the award and will need to provide their social security number as required in the 1099-MISC form. Each participant should consult his or her own tax adviser with respect to these issues.
Application Timetable
  • January 2024 – Official rules, criteria, and entry forms made publicly available.
  • Winter/Spring 2024 – Participants develop and create application materials.
  • May 1, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. MDT – Submission deadline for your Inventor’s Challenge Entry.
  • July 1, 2024 – Judging completed and award announcement.
  • July 1, 2025 - Awarded funds to be fully utilized and final outcome report provided.


Application Process

Between January 2024 and 1 May 2024, visit ( to complete and submit the application form.

The application requirements include: 

• prompts for a written description of the product or invention;

• the Purpose of the product or invention; 

• how the product or invention will reduce conflict between humans and wolves or bears;

• a rationale explaining the need for the design or product, which should reflect a deep understanding of the conflict being addressed, and the relevant/applicable behaviors of bears or wolves;

• how the product or invention might be used by the public; and

• the product’s marketability.  

Additionally, a budgetary timetable, and clear and explanatory drawings, photos, or videos of your design are to be included. You do not need to have a physical prototype created to enter.

By entering, you agree that your application conforms to the entry criteria as defined, and that GWDC, its Board or designated judges may disqualify you from the contest if it believes, in its sole discretion, your entry fails to conform to the entry criteria.

There is a limit of one application from each entrant.


Review of Application

Our panel of judges, including engineers and biologists experienced in wildlife conflict management, will review each application, and select the entry that they feel, in their sole discretion, best fits the Purpose of the Inventor’s Challenge. The winning submission will receive an award of up to $10,000, feedback from the judges, and the potential opportunity for their product or invention to be tested at the GWDC, if appropriate.

The selected applicant will be notified via their provided email address.

If a potential winner cannot be contacted, does not comply with these official rules, or the award is otherwise undeliverable, the potential winner forfeits. If a potential winner is disqualified or forfeits for any reason, the prize may be awarded to a runner-up selected by the panel of judges.





Randy Bailey Inventor's Challenge Judge


Randy has been a Territory Manager with Gallagher, a global electric fence supplier, for 27 years starting in 1996. He graduated from California State University Fresno with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science Production. After college, he worked for a custom feed yard and then moved into dairy feed manufacture. After 5 years in animal health sales, he joined Gallagher. He has worked to expand Gallagher dealers and customers, helping dealers increase their customer base and customer’s use of Gallagher products. Randy has been married for 27 years and has 2 sons. He lives in Orland, CA, where he keeps a small herd of commercial cows. Raising livestock allows him to utilize the products he sells. In Randy's spare time he enjoys fishing, archery, and spending time with his family.

Randy Gravatt Inventor's Challenge Judge


Randy is the Facilities Manager at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. He has been with the Center since 1997, starting in maintenance and working his way up to the supervision of all the Center’s facilities. Since 2002, Randy has also served as coordinator of the bear-resistant container testing program at the Center, overseeing all aspects of the program. He has extensive experience observing how grizzlies tackle and defeat food and garbage containers. Randy also enjoys racing motorcycles in his spare time.

Thad Heater Inventor's Challenge Judge


Thad is the USDA Nevada State Biologist and has worked in wildlife conservation throughout his career. He grew up working on a cattle ranch in the Blue Mountains of Northeast Oregon and earned double bachelor’s degrees from Eastern Oregon University. For a decade, Thad worked with the U.S. Forest Service and Pacific Northwest Research Station on wildlife research and management for a wide array of species. He managed construction crews in the private sector for five years, then returned to wildlife management, working for the Nevada Department of Wildlife on urban bear conflicts. As USDA’s Nevada State Biologist, he promoted conservation of private lands and sage grouse via voluntary Farm Bill conservation programs in Nevada and across eleven western states. He represents the USDA on a variety of conservation technical teams at the state and national level.

Kent Laudon Inventor's Challenge Judge


Kent is Senior Environmental Scientist and wolf specialist with California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Northern Region, based in Redding, CA. Kent earned a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife, Biology and Resource Management from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He has worked as a field biologist for 28 years with several state, federal, and tribal agencies throughout the western United States, specifically studying wolves for the last 21 years in Idaho, Montana, Arizona, and New Mexico. He now works to conserve and manage the gray wolves recolonizing northern California. Kent monitors California’s small wolf population by conducting extensive ground surveys, as well as trapping and collaring wolves. He works with livestock producers on the ground to help deter conflicts and collaborates with citizens representing diverse interests. To build interest and trust in wolf conservation, he conveys important information about wolves to the public and strives to develop relationships with people and communities concerned about wolves.

Patrick Marstall Inventor's Challenge Judge


Pat is an engineer and technologist living in northern Virginia.  Over his career he has worked on designing everything from space stations to pocket knives; radioisotope thermoelectric generators to bathroom cabinets. During the day he consults for several government agencies, while on evenings and weekends he serves as the vice president for one of the oldest and most successful maker spaces on the East Coast, as well as their blacksmithing steward.

Tim Manley Inventor's Challenge Judge


Tim retired after 37 years working for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks as a Grizzly Bear Biologist in northwestern Montana. His career included both research and management of grizzly bears and spanned the gradual increase of grizzly populations in the region. His research focused on grizzly habitat, movements, and population estimation. Tim’s management work involved preventing and responding to human-grizzly bear conflicts by working one-on-one with the public to develop solutions. He worked across the region to educate the public about securing bear attractants and solutions for coexistence.

Heather Reich Inventor's Challenge Judge


Heather Reich graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana in 1998.  Throughout her career, she has pursued her passion for human-bear conflict resolution, working with both grizzlies and black bears in North America. After 20 years as a biologist with federal and state agencies, Heather hung up her agency hat and started a company to become a resource for her fellow human-bear conflict managers. While starting her company, Heather is also wrapping up her master’s degree, with her thesis focusing on bear hazing with Karelian Bear Dogs. She has raised, trained, and handled Karelians for decades in her bear management work. Heather is thrilled to be a part of the Inventor’s Challenge judging panel and see what kinds of things inventive minds may come up with to keep one step ahead of smart bears!

Travis Vineyard Inventor's Challenge Judge


Travis is the Animal Curator at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and President of the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center’s Board of Directors. His experience spans a 30-year career with zoos and wildlife conservation, and a passion for understanding human-bear coexistence has tracked throughout his work. Directly and indirectly, he has been involved in the conservation of all North American bear species, Andean bears in South America, and sloth bears of India. He is Past Chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Bear Taxon Advisory Group and a member of the IUCN Bear Specialist Group.


The Inventor’s Challenge is dedicated to the memory of Kirk Horn, a career wildlife biologist, educator, and dedicated supporter of the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. His interest in the GWDC dates to its inception when Kirk served as Director of Wildlife and Fisheries for the USDA Forest Service Northern Region in Missoula, MT. In 1989, Kirk organized an annual grizzly bear management class for agency managers at Lamar Station in Yellowstone National Park, and this week-long class always included a visit to GWDC. After Kirk and his wife Beth both retired from the Forest Service in 1999, they moved to Hebgen Lake near the GWDC to enjoy the wildlife and outdoor recreation they so loved, especially during the region’s deep winters.

Kirk joined the GWDC Board of Directors in 2012 and subsequently served as Board President to 2018. During his tenure, Kirk was instrumental in bringing the GWDC Riparian Center to completion. Kirk passed in 2019 and is greatly missed by the GWDC and all who knew him. Yet Kirk’s passion for wildlife and conservation endures through the many programs and organizations he worked with during his career and retirement, and the many people he taught and inspired.

We are sure Kirk would be excited to see the new and innovative ideas proposed for the Inventor’s Challenge to reduce conflicts between people and bears or wolves.