This year marked a sea of change for the work of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project. With voters in 2020 approving a measure to reintroduce wolves to Colorado no later than the end of 2023, our focus turned from a quarter century of battling over ”if” to helping influence “how.” You’ll be happy to know that we’ve risen to this new challenge in a big way.
As Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) launched into the nuts-and-bolts of planning for reintroduction, they appointed RMWP founder Mike Phillips, along with other trusted scientific advisors to the Technical Working Group (TWG). As the name implies, this group’s sole focus is to ensure that the best available science undergirds the logistical and biological details of Colorado’s reintroduction program.
The other collaborative prong of CPW‘s planning process, the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG), also includes RMWP advisors and close colleagues from the conservation community. The SAG is wrestling with the stickier issues within the human dimension, helping to build a long-term framework for living with wolves as part of our wild places in Colorado. Wolves, of course, can’t represent themselves in these discussions, but the RMWP and other conservationists are doing yeoman’s work standing up for a thriving population of wolves for generations to come.
Looking to the future
Recent news of the first confirmed depredation by wolves on a cow in northwestern Colorado in over 70 years is making the rounds in the media and coffee shops. No surprise there. We here at the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project do, however, take seriously the need to counter the blood lust that always bubbles to the surface after such events.
We are developing long-term funding for science-based programs that will ensure that wolves thrive while keeping conflicts to a minimum. In the interim, Matt and Gary have engaged with Colorado Parks & Wildlife to improve the draft hazing regulation. Once approved, this regulation will allow folks managing livestock to use non-lethal tools to chase wolves from the immediate vicinity of the herd. Such techniques help wolves learn that cows and sheep are less desirable dinner choices than elk; they also help ranchers understand it is possible to live with wolves around.
As we head in to 2022, we want you all to know how thankful that we are for your continued support of our work on behalf of Colorado’s wolves. We are well aware of the challenges facing wolves across the nation as states pursue wolf eradication programs, and we are determined to guide Colorado’s wolf restoration and management plans in a different direction. The vision that you share with us—a vision of a wild landscape made more resilient by the return of gray wolves—will remain our lodestar.
For the Wild,
Matt Barnes, Rob Edward, Joanna Lambert, Gary Skiba & Courtney Vail