DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado Parks and Wildlife continues to research the reintroduction of gray wolves into the state. Wildlife officials announced a new partnership with Colorado State University on Thursday.

(credit: CBS)

While CSU is known for its agriculture and animal studies, the university also has a division dedicated to public engagement. Together, CPW and CSU will analyze the public and stakeholder engagement process associated with the wolf reintroduction. The research will be funded by a RAPID National Science Foundation grant.

The effort by the CPW Commission to reintroduce gray wolves is unprecedented in the U.S. Colorado voters approved Proposition 114 last November, which directs the commission to restore and manage the gray wolf population by the end of 2023.

“Research suggests that stakeholder engagement can enhance decision-making about impassioned natural resource management issues,” said CPW’s Human Dimensions Specialist and Researcher Dr. Mike Quartuch, who is a co-principal investigator for this project. “Our agency sees great value in listening to public feedback as we work to shape the wolf management plan for Colorado, and we want to examine if our processes are effective. This study will help us identify areas of success and any challenges we encounter. We look forward to collaborating with our research partners at CSU and studying how engaging the public in policy planning initiatives can lead to more well-rounded solutions and engaged communities.”

(credit: CBS)

Proposition 114 passed in Colorado by a razor thin margin, with many people for and against the issue. Those in favor of reintroduction often cite a cultural connection to wolves and the perceived benefits they provide to ecosystems. Criticism of the plan is often centered around perceived negative impacts of wolves on livestock, hunting opportunity and safety.

CPW hired Keystone Policy Center, a third-party organization, to run the Stakeholder Advisory Group along with meetings to gather public input. About 40 public meetings are planned in July and August, including open houses, virtual public listening sessions, and focus groups. For more information, visit the public engagement website at wolfengagementco.org.