In November, Colorado voters approved the reintroduction of wolves into the state. Restoring wolves advances wolf conservation, but without sustainable agricultural management practices, wolves can threaten the viability of livestock producers and their communities. Prior statewide surveys confirm that Coloradoans generally support wolf restoration, but ranchers are uneasy about their own sustainability (see Niemiec et al.,2020 in supplemental files). We propose to train personnel from CSU Extension, public agencies, and NGO’s about profitable sustainable ranching when living with predators.
Government-sponsored predator control eliminated wolves from Colorado by the 1940’s, and wolves have been largely absent since. While Colorado producers are experienced with predators such as mountain lions and bears, they have little experience with contemporary and proven sustainable ranching methods for wolves. A team of researchers and educators at Colorado State University have worked to fill that information void. Through our newly formed Center for Human-Carnivore Coexistence (CHCC), we partnered with CSU Extension and Center for Collaborative Conservation to assemble and distribute science-based information (e.g., information sheets, Q&A, workshops, webinars) leading up to the vote to reintroduce wolves. Through the Center’s efforts were covered in 672 news stories, reaching over 321 million readers.
Through our efforts to educate voters, we built a strong literature database and network of expert researchers, educators and practitioners on living with wolves. This proposal would fund a coordinated effort to utilize our substantial capacity to further develop educational tools and programs to be distributed through our established networks and partnerships with seasoned educators in Extension, government agencies and NGO’s that are on the frontline helping livestock producers. Our Extension Education Team will work with agents and the Western Landowners Alliance to identify information needs, and our research/education team will develop programs and materials that would be distributed in meetings, trainings, and our website.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Consolidate, organize and coordinate wolf educational efforts by the Center for Human-Carnivore Coexistence (CHCC), Western Landowners Alliance (WLA), Extension Wolf Education Committee, government and NGO educators and producers to develop meaningful research and educational capacity to develop sustainable ranching methods with predators.
- Provide Colorado Extension agents and other educators (e.g. Colorado Parks and Wildlife, USDA Wildlife Services, USDA NRCS, Western Landowners Alliance) with steady, continued, contemporary, and relevant training and informational resources (publications, presentations, facts, databases, etc.) to help ensure Colorado’s livestock producers can live sustainably with wolves.
Colorado ranchers have experience with predators like mountain lions and coyotes, but information about sustainable ranching methods to address wolves is limited. Their “go to” for information, CSU Extension, needs help to address their needs. Our team will provide educational programming aimed at Extension and other educators that are embedded in communities where ranchers will have to face the growing presence of wolves. Our CSU team is already heavily involved with wolf research and educational outreach. This grant would organize a special effort for rancher education, led by Dr. Hoag (PI), in collaboration with the Director of the CHCC (Crooks), CSU Extension (Young), and the Center for Collaborative Conservation (Sanderson). A variety of partners will help develop and disseminate the educational materials. The Western Landowners Alliance (Dr. Few) has an established and extensive network to work regularly with landowners to mitigate conflict with predators across 11 western states. USDA Wildlife Services (Dr. Breck) is the lead federal agency responsible for managing conflict with wolves in the U.S. Further expertise will be brought by experienced Colorado livestock Extension agents (Mucklow) and in-state and out-of-state producers (Krebs; Blackfoot Challenge). Finally, our team of researchers at the CHCC have extensive experience and connections with wolf experts around the world.