At the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project, we’re working towards a future of coexistence between people and wolves in western Colorado, in multiple ways, collaborating with multiple partners, including agencies, academia, and the ranching community. We’re thankful for everyone we work with, and for all of you, our supporters.
Engagement with the ranching community. We co-led the community event in mid-September in Steamboat Springs that brought together wolf advocates with Routt County livestock producers, exploring tangible conflict reduction initiatives to foster understanding and tolerance between diverse stakeholders. RMWP, the Stanko Ranch, CSU Routt County Extension, the CSU Center for Human-Carnivore Coexistence, Routt County Cattlemen’s Association, and the Routt County Farm Bureau sponsored this weekend of community building. It was a resounding success, encouraging us to look for additional opportunities to replicate this dialogue between ranchers and wolf advocates in other parts of the state in strategic locations (e.g., near wolf reintroduction sites). This community outreach is critical to enhance our network of diverse collaborators and communication channels with the agricultural community in Colorado. The CSU Routt County Extension agent wrote this article about the event.
We have been active in supporting North Park producers, showing up to help pound fladry posts and other community outreach visits. These acts of goodwill have fostered important relationships that we hope will bear fruit in challenging times ahead. For example, this summer our advisor Joanna will bring student work groups from CU-Boulder to continue with help on the ground in North Park. We also purchased a solar charger and batteries for CPW to support turbo fladry in northern Colorado.
Engagement with the CSU Wolf Conflict Reduction Fund. The Wolf Conflict Reduction Fund will assist producers and communities in areas with wolves to develop and implement on-the-ground non-lethal tools and peer-to-peer learning experiences. The Fund has launched thanks to the CSU Center for Human Carnivore Coexistence, with support from RMWP and others. The Fund is now accepting donations.
Engagement with education. We are engaging with youth inside, and outside, Colorado to address human-carnivore coexistence. More recently, our advisor Courtney served as a judge and panelist for the STEM lab school and its program to leverage real-world challenges to teach collaboration, conflict resolution, and community building. 2nd graders presented their solutions to address human-wolf conflict, and the ideas they presented were inspired—and inspiring! We are working to connect students and teachers in Idaho, Colorado, and internationally through the Model United Nations Impact program to support their interest in holding a ‘wolf dialogue’ or debate as part of their national and international programming. Our advisor Gary spent a morning with 9th graders at Animas High, an alternative high school in Durango, answering questions about wildlife issues, including wolf restoration. He also presented a pro-wolf perspective on wolf restoration at two Environmental Policy classes at Fort Lewis College. Our advisor Matt will also do a couple of guest lectures on coexistence strategies at Fort Lewis College, including one on Dec. 5. Our advisor Joanna continues her engagement with education and outreach on all levels (primary, secondary, undergraduate, Masters, and PhD) to educate about wolves and other predators, including modules on RMWP’s work in Colorado in her conservation biology courses as an example of a conservation success story.
Engagement with the coexistence and science community. Joanna, Matt, and Courtney attended the inaugural International Wildlife Coexistence Conference in Pray, Montana, in mid-October. At the practitioners’ workshop, Matt presented on strategies and tools with emphasis on reducing livestock vulnerability to predation using range management methods such as strategic grazing management and stockmanship. Joanna gave the opening presentation, a deep dive into the prehistory of humans, wolves, proto-dogs, and dogs, with implications for our ongoing fear of predators, especially canine predators. Joanna represented RMWP and CU at the recent International Wolf Symposium and has given (and will continue to give) multiple lectures around the country—for example, she has two upcoming guest lectures (at Duke University and Texas A&M) in which she will discuss rewilding Colorado.
Gary, Matt, and Courtney also work with the Southwest Colorado Wolf Cooperative, which is focused on coexistence and dialog with ranchers, and which just launched a comprehensive and accessible website to consolidate information about wolves and coexistence.
Colorado Born To Be Wild specialty plate. We continue to work toward approval of this gorgeous license plate, which, once approved by the legislature, will help fund our coexistence work far into the future.
Engagement with the media. Jo, Matt, Gary, and Rob have continued to represent the values of coexistence to the media through radio, podcast, and news interviews. In the wake of the wolf killings on the Wyoming state line, Matt spoke with Wyoming Public Media and Mountain West News Bureau for a piece on highlighting “divides”. Joanna just filmed an episode for CBS Sunday Morning Show. Rob and Matt made appearances on The Colorado Howl radio show, emphasizing wolves’ non-game status and the increase in elk populations, hunting opportunities and revenues in the Northern Rocky Mountain states following wolf reintroduction.
Engagement with Colorado wolf planning. The CPW advisory group process has concluded, and both the Stakeholder Advisory Group’s Final Summary of SAG Recommendations and the Technical Working Group’s Final Summary of TWG Recommendations are now available. The recommendations outline a live-and-let-live approach with emphasis on restoration and impact-based management, rather than traditional population management. While the stakeholder process was not perfect, and wolf advocates were a minority, they were able to make reasonable compromises, concluding the process with a consensus not to discuss wolf hunting now. As the hunters and outfitters brought up proactively increasing Colorado’s elk population, wolf advocates worked with them, resulting in a final report on ungulate management that the hunters and outfitters felt addressed their concerns. As part of this effort, Matt compiled data on elk populations and hunting opportunities in the Northern Rocky Mountain states since wolf reintroduction, showing increases in elk populations and elk license sales (one of the largest sources of state wildlife management revenue). Matt and Gary agree that despite some issues with the process, if CPW’s plan mostly resembles the SAG and TWG recommendations, Colorado will have one of the most progressive wolf management plans in the West. Gary and Matt thank CPW for including them, and look forward to further collaboration with the agency.
CPW staff will unveil the draft wolf restoration and management plan to the public in a virtual Commission meeting on Friday, Dec. 9. The public will have opportunities to comment online at wolfengagementco.org, and during January and February at public hearings in each of CPW’s four regions and a virtual meeting. CPW will present the final draft in April, with Commission approval expected in May. The federal government will continue to have oversight; we expect a permit for the reintroduction and an experimental population designation under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act by December 2023.
Stay tuned for updates from RMWP on how best to engage with CPW Commission meetings and the draft wolf restoration and management plan.
Finally, at this time of thanks and giving, we hope you’ll consider a donation to support our work toward that future of human-wolf coexistence in Colorado.
Rob and the RMWP Advisory Board
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Help us make this project a success! Forward this email to all of your friends and family in Colorado, and consider making a donation today, via our secure donations page at: https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/rockymtnwolf