Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Robert Buchwald

Second Advisor

Paul Lander

Third Advisor

Dale Miller

Abstract

Wolf populations are undoubtedly increasing in the western United States as a result of wolf reintroduction efforts in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho in 1987 on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. However, as wolf populations continue to increase throughout the west, so does the number of people negatively impacted by wolves such as livestock producers, hunters, and homeowners that are in close proximity to wolf populations. Colorado is currently involved in the ongoing controversy over wolf reintroduction because of the fear wolf populations may have on communities, as well as the livestock and hunting industries, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required to develop a plan by the end of 2017 to increase Mexican gray wolf populations in Arizona, New Mexico, and possibly Colorado. The Colorado Department of Wildlife (CDOW) published a wolf management program in 2004 that offered solutions to managing wolves that were migrating from surrounding states, but this program was published nearly 15 years ago and does not promote the repopulation of wolves, nor was it fully implemented because wolves are still federally listed as endangered in Colorado. This paper revisits the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan from 1987 to improve upon the Findings and Recommendations for Wolves Migrating into Colorado from 2004 to encourage wolf repopulation in Colorado while also limiting conflict between humans and wolves. Through this analysis, I found that the 2004 Colorado wolf management plan could improve upon the lack of measurable goals for restoring wolves in Colorado, the absence of buffer zones between wolf habitat and human development, insufficient sources of funding for management and depredation funds, and an incomplete education and outreach program. I recommend that the future Colorado wolf management plan implement specific goals to measure wolf repopulation, purchase multi-use land between wolf habitat and human development, acquire funding for wolf management and depredation from Colorado’s lottery tax, marijuana tax, and tourism, and lastly develop individual outreach programs for the interest groups most impacted by wolves and provide them with non-lethal wolf protection alternatives. These effective solutions will limit the negative impacts of wolves as much as possible, while also giving wolves a second chance to thrive in a land that was once their own.

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