Colorado Public Forum Simulation

How do scientific research and the perspectives of Coloradans affect decisions about wolf reintroductions?

Perspectives, perceptions, and science weave together when making decisions about reintroducing wolves into the mountains of western Colorado. In UNCOVER, we examined the balance between perceptions and scientific facts about wolves. This sets the stage for examining citizens' diverse perspectives. 

In this simulation of a Colorado Public Forum on the wolf reintroduction, you will ask: 

  • What do people with various livelihoods, lifestyles, and experiences say about the wolf reintroduction? How would they respond to this question: Can a managed wolf reintroduction program restore the balance of Colorado’s mountain ecosystems without significantly and negatively impacting human activities and livelihoods?
  • What do people living in different parts of the state - Western Slope/Mountains/Front Range/Eastern Plains, urban/rural, North/Central/South - say about a wolf reintroduction? 
  • Why are they concerned or supportive? 

You and your classmates will set aside your personal perspectives and take on roles that represent various Colorado citizen perspectives about wolf reintroduction. As you participate, it is helpful to remember that ecological issues are complex and may not have perfect solutions. The proposal to reintroduce wolves into Colorado’s Rocky Mountains conjures up citizen’s emotions, opinions, knowledge about wolves, and stories and experiences related to the animal. These all influence a person’s perspective, or point of view, about bringing the wolf back. Success will involve honoring these diverse perspectives, evaluating alternatives, finding creative solutions, and compromising on an outcome that is best for all. 

Review the Differences Between Perceptions, Scientific Facts, and Perspectives

A critical part of informed decision-making is understanding and empathizing with different perspectives, or points of view, of citizens across Colorado who might be impacted by wolf reintroduction. What perceptions, scientific facts, and perspectives have influenced their positions on wolf reintroduction? 

Before jumping into the Colorado debate, let’s take a moment to review the differences between these three influences. Write the key words or phrases that describe each term. Then write a sentence or two giving an example of how each could influence a citizen’s position about wolf reintroduction.


Perceptions are based on your personal interpretations and understanding of a given situation, person, or thing. An inaccurate perception is called a misperception or myth. Perceptions can be influenced by past experiences, education, culture, values, and beliefs.

Scientific Fact

Scientific facts are observations that have been repeatedly confirmed and are accepted as “true” from overwhelming evidence. In science, the “truth” is never final and can change based on new evidence.


Perspectives are the lenses from which the world is viewed; in other words, different points of view. Perspectives affect how someone views themselves, others, and everything around them. Perspective can be influenced by gender, race, culture, age, job, place of residence, and many other factors.


Research Your Citizen's Perspective On Wolves in Colorado

Twelve citizen perspectives from across Colorado are described on role cards. Click on the "Role Cards" button to download. You can also click on each role box below to read the citizen's position. Many positions are similar to Yellowstone citizen statements. Two Moderator role cards are included.

Hunter Native American (Ute, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Jigarilla Apache) Outdoor recreation enthusiast Rancher Wildlife biologist Wildlife manager from Colorado Dept. of Parks and Wildlife General or Multiple Perspectives

Animal Rights Advocate

"Public land is for everyone and everyone deserves a say in what happens on that land. Western ranchers have grazed on federal lands for years. Since we taxpayers are subsidizing the livestock industry, we should have the right to demand that the wolves be part of the landscape."

Business Owner

"I’m really excited about the idea of reintroduction of wolves. My business could really benefit from having more tourists in the park."

Government Official

Part of the ballot measure requires creating a plan to pay ranchers for livestock losses due to wolf predation. Parts of the Colorado government would need to determine how compensation would be given for livestock losses due to wildlife.


"I’m afraid that wolves will leave the place where they are reintroduced and kill my dogs and cats. I’m also worried that my life and my children’s lives will be endangered by having wolves nearby. What’s to stop them from attacking my family?"


"I think the people that want to introduce wolves to the park are the same people that want to ban hunting, trapping, fishing, and other recreational activities. Eliminating livestock from public lands is just one more thing they want to take away. I can’t get behind this. I’m concerned that if wolves are reintroduced to the park, the big game like elk and other species that I hunt will be killed off by the wolves and there won’t be anything left for me to hunt. "

Native American

(Ute, Cheyenne, Navajo, Arapaho, Jigarilla Apache)
"Wolves are an important part of the natural world and should be reintroduced back to their native range. These animals are important to Indigenous cultures and I believe that we should be doing all we can to coexist with them."
Ute, Cheyenne, Navajo, Arapaho, Jicarilla Apache

Outdoor Recreation Enthusiast

Option 1: "I am an outdoor lover and have experience being safe around other large predators. Wolves have the potential to restore some balance to the places I like to camp, and I’m excited about that."  Option 2: "I love to be outdoors, but I’m not very experienced. I feel reintroducing wolves will have a negative impact on my experiences outdoors in Colorado, since I’m fearful of encountering a wolf in the wild and wouldn’t want to spend energy worrying about them."


"I think people who aren’t from this area shouldn’t have a say in the matter. They don’t know what’s going on, they aren’t familiar with the land, and they don’t understand how it will impact our way of life. If wolves are released in Colorado, very few people are ever going to see them.  Landowners and ranchers would continuously have to deal with wolves killing their livestock. If wolves are introduced, I feel the government should compensate me for any livestock losses due to wolves."


"I’ve never seen a wolf before. I think I’d make a special trip to Colorado just to see wolves! I’d bring my whole family and make a vacation out of it."

Wildlife Biologist

"Reintroduction is important for wolves to be able to establish healthy, strong populations in Colorado. Though individual wolves have been seen in CO, wolves travel in packs and require help from other pack members to hunt and survive. The chances of individual wolves surviving on journeys from Wyoming to Colorado are low, since wolves have been delisted in the state and thus aren’t protected there."

Wildlife/Conservation Organization

"Colorado is an essential part of the wolf's native range, and reintroduction should occur simply because the wolves have a right to be here. Their role in the ecosystem is irreplaceable and their reintroduction would help restore balance to stressed ecosystems in the state."


Wildlife manager from Colorado Department of Parks & Wildlife

"Any wolf reintroduction effort to Colorado needs to take some factors into consideration. There are many people in Colorado. Many are recreationists who enjoy natural space and are used to using these lands without wolves. Figuring out where wolves can fit in safely and with the least amount of human conflict will be important. Decisions also need to be made about how to pay for wolf management. Currently, the money made by selling hunting licenses and permits covers the cost of wildlife management in the state, but that might not be the best approach for Colorado with the addition of wolves to the state."


Research your citizen's position on this question: Can a managed wolf reintroduction program restore the balance of Colorado’s mountain ecosystems without significantly and negatively impacting human activities and livelihoods?

  1. Choose a role card. Make sure your role is unfamiliar to you or different from your own perspective. If you want experience running a meeting like this, consider being the Moderator! Depending on the size of your class, two people might get the same citizen card.  
  2. Read and gather supporting evidence to prepare for explaining and defending your citizen group’s perspective at the forum. You are responsible for representing this citizen group at the forum. The card statement is your starting point for building your citizen arguments. 
  3. Read this overview article, focusing on the sections describing arguments for and against wolf reintroduction. Determine where your citizen position fits into these arguments:
    What you need to know about a ballot effort to bring wolves back to Colorado from The Colorado Independent, December 10, 2019.
  4. Gather additional relevant information by reviewing UNCOVER’s perceptions and science pages, reading articles listed in Articles: Perspectives Across Colorado (above), researching other digital or paper resources, or talking with people in your community who have your citizen perspective or lifestyle. The articles will also help you become more familiar with other perspectives that you will hear at the forum. If you do not see your role included in Articles: Perspectives Across Colorado, find information about your citizen perspective in the list under General or Multiple Perspectives.
    • For Moderators: Become familiar with all the perspectives on the citizen statement cards, reading general articles listed in “Articles: Perspectives Across Colorado.” Then look over the Call to Order, and talk with your teacher about how to run the forum.
  5. Organize your notes for easy reference during the Public Forum. Remember to write down the sources of your information so you can refer to them if needed.


Identify the Ecosystem Benefits to Colorado Citizens

Recall what you learned about ecosystem services in Yellowstone and apply it to Colorado. Ecosystem services are the many benefits that nature provides to people and society. These benefits include, but are not limited to, clean water and air, crop pollination and nutritious food, and nutrient-rich soil and erosion protection. Ecosystems also provide recreational, cultural, and spiritual benefits.

Resources describing ecosystem services:


  • How might the ecosystem services offered by the reintroduction area affect your decision?
  • What would be helpful to know about the ecosystem services offered by potential wolf reintroduction areas in western Colorado mountains?

Prepare your Statement for the Public Forum

"I support reintroducing wolves into Colorado."
"I do not support reintroducing wolves into Colorado."

What’s your position and why? Prepare a 1-2 minute presentation explaining your citizen’s position on the wolf reintroduction and the reasons for supporting this position. Use the arguments collected from your research. You can organize your presentation in a short paragraph, a concept map, or 2-column notes. 


Participate in the Public Forum

The forum allows citizens to weigh in on this question:

Can a managed wolf reintroduction program restore the balance of Colorado’s mountain ecosystems without significantly and negatively impacting human activities and livelihoods?

Follow these protocols. The teacher and student moderator will facilitate the meeting.

  1. The public forum will have a moderator and one spokesperson for each citizen group. If there are enough students to have two representing each perspective, you have the option of splitting the class and running two smaller forums.  
  2. Arrange the forum chairs or desks in a circle.
  3. All citizen presenters must sign in on the presenter list. Write your name and citizen group next to a number. This will set the order for citizen presentations. (If two people are speaking for the same citizen group, they have the option of presenting together.)
  4. Moderator, you will run the forum by calling the meeting to order (instructions below), reviewing the norms, stating the question that is being discussed (above), and facilitating presentations and questions. 
  5. The teacher will let you know the maximum length of time for a presentation, and assign a timer to monitor presentation length. 
  6. Be ready to introduce yourself by saying your name and who you are (citizen group). Remember - from this point on, you completely assume the citizen’s role and attitudes, even if your role is contrary to your personal perspective.
  7. The moderator will let you know when it is your turn to speak. The timer will let you know when your time is up (usually 1-2 minutes). If you run out of time, you can finish your sentence or thought before stopping.  
  8. Listen with intention to the other citizen presentations, taking notes about their arguments for or against the reintroduction. You can use the handout "Notes from Colorado Public Forum” or create your own. 
  9. After all presentations have been given, the moderator (with teacher assistance as needed) will open the floor for questions or additional arguments. Be ready to ask or answer questions related to the citizen perspective you represent.

Reflect on the Public Forum

  1. How did the citizen perspective you represented compare with your personal views? (Moderators can talk about the role of maintaining empathy and being open-minded when talking about a controversial topic.)
  2. What did you learn about yourself as you researched and presented the citizen’s view? (Moderators can talk about researching the diverse perspectives.)
  3. How did portraying this role affect your personal views on wolves?
  4. What might you want the teacher to know about your preparation and participation in the forum? 
  5. My favorite part was ____
  6. My best work was _____
  7. If I could do this again, I would change _____
  8. If I could do this again, I would improve _____
bringing it all together

Why is reintroducing wolves into Colorado being considered now?

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the main message of this video? 
  2. What issues or facts does this video not address?
  3. What question(s) do you have after watching this video?
educator note

References to original teacher instructions: 

  • Wolves of Yellowstone Teacher Guide. The teacher guide (p. 15-16, #9-21) can be used as a reference for the Colorado Public Forum. The instructions for the Colorado Public Forum are adapted from this original version.
  • Part 2 Student Worksheet: Student Role-Playing Materials — Scenarios Matrix. The Colorado Public Forum was modeled after this Yellowstone Public Forum. If you want to reference the original, it can be found here.

You will need copies of:

  • Citizen Perspectives for Colorado Public Forum cards (1-3 sets so each student gets a card, cut apart and keep in sets. Decide which roles will be portrayed by more than one student, depending on class size.)
  • Call to Order for Public Forum (2-3 copies for moderators and teacher)
  • Notes on Public Forum (1/student)
  • Sign-in: Citizen Presenters for Public Forum

Facilitating the Public Forum

Use the instructions below to facilitate the forum. They are adapted for Colorado from the public forum simulation for Yellowstone. The original instructions for Yellowstone can be found in the Teacher Guide, p. 15-16, #9-21). 

Getting ready:

  1. For a class of 24 or more, you can choose to run one large forum with several students representing the same citizen position. Or you can run two smaller forums at the same time with one student representing each citizen position. The number of moderators can also fluctuate to accommodate the number of students in class.  
  2. Consider how you want to assign roles. Random or assigned? The learning process and empathy-building is much more powerful when students take on a role that is different from their own.  
  3. Review and edit the forum norms and Call to Order as desired for your class. 
  4. Decide the maximum length of each presentation based on number of presenters and length of class. 
  5. Decide how time will be monitored for presentations. If the forum has two moderators, one could facilitate while the other monitors the time. 
  6. Decide whether students will take notes on the template provided or create their own. 
  7. Decide whether students will respond to all, some, or additional reflection questions (found on the webpage).

During preparation and presentations at the forum: 

  1. While students are researching their roles, you will want to coach the moderator(s) on how to facilitate a meeting about a controversial issue, and be ready to assist as needed. Give each moderator a presenter sign-in sheet (numbered for the total number of presenters— e.g., 1-12) and Call to Order. 
  2. When time for the forum, arrange chairs or desks in a circle. If two forums, place on opposite sides of the room to minimize talking over each other while allowing you to observe both. 
  3. Have the moderator instruct citizens (students) to sign in by the number indicating when they want to be called to present.
  4. The moderator will start by reading the Call to Order, reviewing the norms, and reminding presenters of how much time they have to talk, and how they will be alerted if they go over their time. 
  5. Have students go around the circle to introduce themselves, saying their names and their citizen role “I am….” From this point on, they are to completely assume the citizen’s role and attitudes. 
  6. The moderator will call on citizens in the order listed on the sign-in sheet. The timer will time presentations and follow agreed-upon protocols for alerting presenters when their time is up. Presenters will be allowed to finish their sentence or thought. 
  7. All students are to take notes about each of the other citizen statements. They can use the note template provided or you can have them create their own. 
  8. After all statements have been given, the moderator can open the floor to questions/responses and comments. The moderator and citizens can ask each other questions to better understand points of view and to correct any inaccuracies given.
  9. After the forum, bring the students together to debrief on the experience as a group. To engage everyone, consider having students debrief in small groups first and then as a large group. 
    1. What was this experience like for you portraying the citizen? 
    2. What was it like for you personally? 
    3. What went well in the forum process? 
    4. What was challenging about the process? 
    5. How could the process be improved? 
    6. How will this experience affect how you interpret what you read or hear about the wolf reintroduction issue between now and the November 2020 vote? 
    7. What connections can you make to conversations and debates about other controversial issues? 
    8. What lessons could you apply in the future when you are forming a perspective or discussing a controversial issue? 
  10. Have students respond in writing to the personal reflection questions.