Rocky Mountain Wolf Quest

grade bands: high school

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Should gray wolves be reintroduced into Colorado?

The Rocky Mountain Ecosystem Needs Your Help!

The idea of reintroducing wolves into Colorado’s mountains is a controversial issue that stirs up strong feelings. In November 2020 citizens of this state are being asked to vote on a ballot initiative to decide if a plan will be created to bring this predator back. On this Quest, students will become an expert in the complex issue of wolf reintroduction so that they can be an informed citizen, knowledgeable about the scientific facts and empathetic to diverse perspectives. Students will have the opportunity to use their new understanding to help educate others in their family, community, and state about the potential impacts wolves could have on people and the natural ecosystem.

The Problem

Most Colorado citizens have a narrow understanding of the complexities of bringing wolves back to the state. What more do we need to understand about both the science of wolf reintroduction and its impact on humans? These predators stir up strong emotions in people. They are both loved and hated, respected and feared. Perspectives about wolves are influenced by where Colorado citizens live, their identities, and the work they do. Perceptions, or understanding, of wolves are influenced by personal experiences, as well as our culture, education, media, beliefs, and relationship with nature. Wolves have inspired decades of scientific research to uncover the facts and disprove myths about this complex species, its role in an ecosystem, and its relationship with people.

The take-away message: It’s complicated!


How Can You Help?

In this Quest, students will be challenged to research and defend conflicting citizen views on the reintroduction of wolves to the mountains of Colorado. They will compare scientific facts with misperceptions about wolves and their reintroduction, analyze relevant data, and explain ongoing research. The Quest also compares the anticipated and actual impacts of wolves on people and ecosystems in places like Yellowstone National Park where wolves were reintroduced in the 1990s.

As part of the culminating projects of the Quest, students can help by:

  • Taking a stand on how they feel about wolf reintroduction, noting valid conflicting sides of this complex issue.  
  • Creating an innovative presentation to help family or community members understand the science and citizen perspectives about this issue so they can be informed and empathetic voters in November.
  • Vote in November if 18 years old, and encourage family members to vote!

Below is a live presentation by Wolf Education Lead Laura Arndt, leading educators through the Wolf Quest, with a Live Q&A session afterwards. This session was originally broadcast on April 17, 2020.

Below is a live presentation by Wolf Education Lead Laura Arndt, with a Q&A with scientist and policy maker Mike Phillips. This session was originally broadcast on May 21, 2020.

Quest Guidelines

Geographic Focus: United States - Colorado

Target Grade Bands: 8th - 12th

Focus Ecosystem or Species Group: Southern Rocky Mountains


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