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Explorers Club Roundtable: "Rewilding" America

As economic patterns shift, land use is changing and human populations are abandoning vast regions of the planet. These redistributions have created space for a relatively new idea in conservation: “rewilding,” whose advocates have pushed for the active return of land once used for farming, ranching, and other human purposes to a more ‘natural,’ pre-industrial state.

Biodiversity projects like this are happening on various scales around the world: in places like the Iberian Peninsula, Great Britain, Russia, Brazil. It’s also happening in the American West—where the non-profit American Prairie Reserve has acquired some 400,000 acres of northeastern Montana ranchland with the goal of creating the preeminent grassland ecosystem on earth.

“Rewilding” is redefining 21st-century frontiers, both physically and philosophically. But it is also controversial, especially when the subject is the reintroduction of wolves—as happened in Yellowstone in the nineties—and other predators.

The Explorers Club is proud to have the participation of two leading authorities in the “rewilding” debate. Join us for a robust discussion of the topic, with a special emphasis on the prospects for species such as wolves and bison.

Special Guests:

Dr. Kyran Kunkel, a wildlife biologist, is Director of Wildlife Restoration and Science at the American Prairie Reserve. Before joining APR full-time in 2014, he initiated the Reserve’s bison restoration program through collaborative efforts with World Wildlife Fund, where he served as a Senior Fellow. He has led a wide range of efforts including cougar conservation, swift fox reintroduction, wolf research, and tracking pronghorn migration routes. Earlier in his career, he studied moose, wolverines, and grizzly and black bears as the regional wildlife biologist for the Alaska Region of the National Park Service. He has also served as the Senior Biologist for the Turner Endangered Species Fund, where he led the largest and most successful bighorn sheep restoration project ever completed in New Mexico. Kunkel is an Affiliate Professor in the Wildlife Biology Program at the University of Montana and a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution.

Maggie Howell is Executive Director of the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York, which works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce Mexican gray wolves and red wolves into the wild. She also leads the organization’s education and advocacy initiatives. Before joining WCC in 2005, Howell worked with big cats in Washington State and as manager of the Big Carnivore Group at Arizona’s Out of Africa Wildlife Park, where her charges included big cats, wolves, bears, and hyenas. She has served as coordinator of the Northeast Wolf Coalition since 2014. She has a degree in Biology from Vassar, with a focus on Animal Behavior.

The discussion will be moderated by journalist and filmmaker Darrell Hartman, MR ’14. Hartman has written about rewilding and environmental conservation for Travel + Leisure, Granta, and other media outlets. He is also a director and producer of short documentaries and a co-founder of Jungles in Paris, a digital magazine devoted to nature and culture.

Date: Thursday, May 3

Time: 6:30 pm

Location: Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021

Member Ticket Price: $10

Guest Ticket Price: $15

Reservation Notes:

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