Some of my friends and family might call me a chronic activist. In my late twenties, a stint advocating for whales off the coast of Boston. Then I moved on to Arizona to herd sheep for Navaho elders resisting relocation from the reservation. Finally, in late 1994, I settled down to join the staff of a grassroots group called Sinapu, named after the Ute word for wolves. As its name hints, the group aims to repatriate wolves to the hunting grounds of their ancestors in the Colorado high country. The starting pay was only slightly better than the sheepherding gig (free), but the public’s intense interest in the organization’s goals made it feel like a good fit.
Unfortunately, shortly after I arrived in Boulder, Congress’s lawless logging shenanigans created a political and legal quagmire that sapped the energy, money, and enthusiasm of the nation’s conservation groups and their millions of supporters; for the time being, wolves had to take a back seat to forest defense. Staring into the abyss of that political reality made clear the long road ahead. Sinapu needed to forge a compelling argument for wolf restoration in the Southern Rocky Mountains to reinvigorate the interest of the big groups like Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club. Thus, I dedicated the next several years to meticulously laying a credible scientific and political underpinning for that argument.