Monday October 5, Dr. John Sanderson, Director of Colorado State University‚Äôs Center for Collaborative Conservation, and Dr. Rebecca Niemiec, Assistant Professor in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department at CSU discussed 'civility' in general, and as it specifically relates to the wolf reintroduction initiative in Colorado.  View the discussion at
RCFC President Del Benson PhD, introduced the topic noting that the wolf is more than an animal, being also an important symbol.  Dr. Niemiec noted that whether wolves are reintroduced, thrive or are killed ultimately depends on people's values, especially whose values are incorporated into decision making.  She went on to note that two main values associated with wildlife in general are "Domination Values", valuing usage of wildlife for human benefit, vs. "Mutualism Values", where wildlife is seen as part of the human social network, and beneficial to all.  She noted that those within the state Department of Fish, Game and Wildlife tend toward the Domination value, and those who promoted the reintroduction ballot initiative felt that was the ballot was only way to have their voices heard. 
Dr. Niemiec cited phone, on-line and mail in surveys, showing 65% to 80% of Western Slope Coloradoans indicate they favor reintroduction, while 73% to 85% of Eastern Slope residents favor reintroduction.   She has also done studies on media coverage of the issue, and noted the need for a stakeholder engagement process where diverse opinions are equally represented.  
Dr. Sanderson discussed the "Wicked Problem" of the 'we vs. them' politics, and the cognitive biases we all have - we agree with what is agreeable to us.  "I'm good; those who disagree with me are not good."  To resolve these complex, 'wicked problems', requires sitting at the table together listening more, talking less, seeking to understand, and revisit and breakdown assumptions.