Wolves in Colorado: Science & Stories

A Special Virtual Presentation of the Institute for Science & Policy and Colorado State University’s Warner College of Natural Resources, in partnership with the Center for Collaborative Conservation, the Center for Human-Carnivore Coexistence, CSU Extension, and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Sept. 24, Oct. 1, Oct. 8, Oct. 15, and Oct. 22 at 5 pm MT
Register for the free webinar series

After a nearly 80-year absence, gray wolves appear to be on the verge of returning to Colorado. In July 2019, a lone radio-collared wolf became the state’s first confirmed Canis lupus sighting in the wild in years. Then, in January, a separate pack appeared in Moffat County in northwest Colorado. This November, voters will go to the polls to determine the fate of Ballot Proposition 114 which, if passed, would charge the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission with formally reintroducing wolves no later than 2023.

The potential return of this charismatic and controversial species has sparked a wide range of passionate reactions. Some Coloradans praise the restoration of an endangered apex predator to its ancestral range while pointing to the associated ecosystem benefits. Others are wary of the economic impact on agriculture and the challenges of adding wolves to the increasingly populated Western Slope. For generations, wolves and humans have navigated a fraught dynamic of coexistence. So what does the science tell us about the pros and cons of wolves returning to our backyard? And, if wolves are in Colorado’s future, how can society have an effective dialogue that uses science to inform policy and management?

In this special four-part webinar series, we’ll explore wolf reintroduction through the lens of science, policy, and lived experiences. Our diverse group of panelists will discuss the current state of wolf populations, dive into the data about the species’ role in the ecosystem, talk trade-offs, and hear firsthand stories from those who’ve already been living amongst wolves in other parts of the U.S.

Episode 1: The Science of Restoring Wolves to Colorado
Thursday, September 24 at 5 p.m. MT
In our premiere episode, we’ll discuss wolf-related policy and the latest ecological and social science research pertaining to wolf ecology, interactions with big game and livestock, and public perceptions of wolves.

Panelists: Stewart Breck, Research Wildlife Biologist, USDA Wildlife Services; Kevin Crooks, Director, Center for Human-Carnivore Coexistence, and Professor, Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, CSU

Episode 2: Media Coverage and Public Perspectives on Wolves
Thursday, October 1 at 5 p.m. MT

Panelists: Sam Brasch, Reporter, Colorado Public Radio; Rebecca Niemiec, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, CSU

Episode 3: Community Perspectives and Conflict over Wolves
Thursday, October 8 at 5 p.m. MT

Panelists: Bill Fales, Rancher, Crystal River Valley, Colorado; Jonathan Proctor, Program Director of the Rockies and Plains Program, Defenders of Wildlife

Episode 4: The Values and Costs of Wolves
Thursday, October 15 at 5 p.m. MT

Panelists: Stanley Asah, Professor, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington; Shauna Baron, Naturalist Guide, Yellowstone National Park; Dana Hoag, Professor, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, CSU

Episode 5: The Experience of Living With Wolves
Thursday, October 22 at 5 p.m. MT

Panelists: Denny Iverson, Rancher and Logger, Iverson Ranch in Montana, Secretary of the Blackfoot Challenge; Kim Skyelander, Associate Director, Center for Collaborative Conservation, CSU



Disclosure statement:
The Institute for Science & Policy is committed to publishing diverse perspectives in order to advance civil discourse and productive dialogue. Views expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, or its affiliates.