Why conservationists want to bring wolves back to Colorado.
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Rocky Mountain Wolf Project

When you think of the quintessential American species, what comes to mind? Buffalo? Bald eagles? What about ... the gray wolf?

It probably wasn't the first thing you thought of, but maybe it should be.

After all, the gray wolf was once common all across the country, frequently seen — or heard howling — by America’s earliest settlers everywhere.


Image via iStock.

But unlike the American buffalo or the bald eagle, the gray wolf got a really bad rap early on.

Instead of admiring or cherishing them, people were simply afraid of wolves. And when settlers moved out West, wolves there were especially hated by ranchers who didn't want them killing their cattle.

Unfortunately, this meant that for centuries, wolves were hunted and trapped for sport and to protect livestock.

By the end of the 19th century, ranchers, farmers, and settlers weren’t the only ones killing wolves: A government-sponsored extermination plan was launched, and by the 1950s, wolves were mostly wiped out from their historic ranges in the lower 48 states — including Colorado.

Wolves are still largely absent from Colorado today, but they don’t need to be.

Studies have shown that a great habitat and healthy prey populations — notably elk — are available for gray wolves throughout the western half of Colorado, including areas in the Flat Tops.

A view of the Flat Tops Wilderness area in Colorado. Image via USDA/Flickr.

For conservationists and wildlife management, it’s just a question of how to bring the wolves back.

One way to do this is to just help wolves migrate naturally from surrounding states. In Colorado’s neighboring states, wolf populations have been growing, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials. Because these animals are known to travel long distances while hunting prey, they could come into Colorado on their own.

Gray wolves are currently protected by the Endangered Species Act in Colorado, so killing a wolf is against the law and can result in serious penalties — including criminal charges, a year in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000. This means that if a gray wolf crosses state lines into Colorado, it should be protected — though there has been a lot of pressure to weaken federal wildlife protection laws lately.

Image via iStock.

There have already been occasional one-off sightings of gray wolves in Colorado, and last year, state park officials issued a statement letting residents know they should expect to see more wolves in the state because of the wolves' tendency to migrate.  

But letting it happen naturally is not only slow, it's not guaranteed to work. Many migrating wolves end up running across dangerous highways and roads and not reaching their ideal habitats.  

And, given that a recent court ruling could allow wolves to be shot on sight in much of Wyoming, it is unlikely that a viable population of wolves could come to occupy Colorado through natural recolonization because the journey to get there would simply be too dangerous.

In addition, for some wolf packs, there is just simply too much distance between their current homes up north and western Colorado to make the journey.

So another way to bring wolves home to Colorado is through reintroduction into wilderness areas.

A wolf pack in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park. Image via iStock.

Reintroduction efforts were a success in Yellowstone National Park, and they helped restore the natural balance of the ecosystem. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has helped restore wolves to other states too, including New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho, and Montana.

Unfortunately, in January 2016, the Colorado Wildlife Commission rejected a proposal to deliberately re-establish wolves in the state. This was largely because ranchers as well as some hunters and locals campaigned against it.

But conservation groups, like the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project, aren’t giving up just yet. Instead, they're working to change people’s minds about wolves.

Image via iStock.

Wolves are not ruthless killers; they actually go out of their way to avoid humans. Attacks on humans in North America are virtually unheard of, and no lethal attack by wild, healthy wolves has ever been confirmed in the lower 48 states; only one or two have been recorded in the Canadian and Alaskan wilderness.

And while wolves do hunt big game, such as elk, that doesn't mean that they are going to kill them all. In fact, they don't —healthy herds of elk and deer can be found throughout wolf country in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. And wolves can also help other species by keeping the number of deer and elk under control, which allows certain animals like songbirds, beavers, and bears to thrive.

People also love to see wolves in nature; after all, wolves are some pretty incredible creatures. Some travelers even go wolf-watching in Yellowstone. Wouldn't it be great if they did the same in Colorado?

We can bring wolves back to Colorado if scientists develop and implement a re-establishment plan that relies on reintroductions (like what was done in Yellowstone) and if they listen to the needs and concerns of local residents. And from there, the wolves can take care of the rest.

If you want to help the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project bring wolves back to Colorado, check out their website and sign up to find out more about ways to help.

A wolf pup. Image via iStock.

Wolves are an important part of our natural landscape and an important part our history. Maybe someday soon they will roam Colorado once again.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


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Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

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Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

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All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Photo by Naomi Hébert on Unsplash
gray steel 3-door refrigerator near modular kitchen

There's more to keeping a green kitchen than recycling your yogurt containers or opting to store your leftovers in glass Tupperware. Little things, like your trash bags, can add up, which is why it's important to try to reduce your footprint as much as possible. Fortunately, these sustainable kitchen products make it easy keep a green home!

Reusable Silicone Baking Cups



Reusable silicone cupcake liners save you money on having to buy disposable paper cupcake wrappers every time you bake. These sustainable cupcake liners are just as festive as anything you would throw away. Because the liners are made with a sturdier silicone, they can be used for other purposes, like arts and crafts projects.

Amazon Basics, $7.99 for a pack of 12; Amazon

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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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ZACHOR Foundation

"What's 'the Holocaust'?" my 11-year-old son asks me. I take a deep breath as I gauge how much to tell him. He's old enough to understand that prejudice can lead to hatred, but I can't help but feel he's too young to hear about the full spectrum of human horror that hatred can lead to.

I wrestle with that thought, considering the conversation I recently had with Ben Lesser, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor who was just a little younger than my son when he witnessed his first Nazi atrocity.

It was September of 1939 and the Blitzkrieg occupation of Poland had just begun. Ben, his parents, and his siblings were awakened in their Krakow apartment by Nazi soldiers who pistol-whipped them out of bed and ransacked their home. As the men with the shiny black boots filled burlap sacks with the Jewish family's valuables, a scream came from the apartment across the hall. Ben and his sister ran toward the cry.

They found a Nazi swinging their neighbors' baby upside down by its legs, demanding that the baby's mother make it stop crying. As the parents screamed, "My baby! My baby!" the Nazi smirked—then swung the baby's head full force into the door frame, killing it instantly.

This story and others like it feel too terrible to tell my young son, too out of context from his life of relative safety and security. And yet Ben Lesser lived it at my son's age. And it was too terrible—for anyone, much less a 10-year-old. And it was also completely out of context from the life of relative safety and security Ben and his family had known before the Nazi tanks rolled in.

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Server Flavaine Carvalho was waiting on her last table of the night at Mrs. Potatohead's, a family restaurant in Orlando, Florida when she noticed something peculiar.

The parents of an 11-year-old boy were ordering food but told her that the child would be having his dinner later that night at home. She glanced at the boy who was wearing a hoodie, glasses, and a face mask and noticed a scratch between his eyes.

A closer look revealed a bruise on his temple.

So Carvalho walked away from the table and wrote a note that said, "Do you need help?" and showed it to the boy from an angle where his parents couldn't see.

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