Dr. Kyran Kunkel, wildlife biologist and American Prairie Reserve’s Director of Wildlife Restoration and Science, is a familiar face for visitors and science partners. After more than a decade of involvement in the building of the Reserve and the region’s wildlife populations, Kyran officially joined APR in 2014. His role involves working with our staff and a wide range of collaborators to restore the natural abundance of the Northern Plains creating the largest wildlife reserve and wildlife restoration project in US history. This includes restoring APR lands according to the Freese Scale for Grassland Biodiversity, which he co-created with Dr. Curt Freese and Dr. Sam Fuhlendorf, and directing an innovative program of research, conservation, and citizen science activity.
Kyran is well suited to this role, having been a part of the project since his first trip to the Reserve in 2003. Before joining our staff full-time, Dr. Kunkel worked with American Prairie Reserve as a contractor to initiate our 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, and 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. Kyran remains as an Affiliate Professor in the Wildlife Biology Program at the University of Montana. He is also a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution.