Dr. Kunkel has led a nonprofit organization, the Conservation Science Collaborative, for more than eight years, working to develop and employ science to lead conservation practices while focusing on critical needs. He currently leads long-term research on wolves and wolverines in the trans-boundary Flathead country of Montana and British Columbia, yielding conservation recommendations that are partly responsible for permanent protections in what could be considered the most important basin for carnivores in the Rocky Mountains.
Since 2003, Kyran has served as a Senior Fellow and consultant with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) where he is a principal member of a team engaged in the largest ongoing land and species conservation and restoration effort in North America, the American Prairie Reserve. He developed and served as co-leader of the bison conservation and restoration project; led the cougar conservation project, the only large carnivore conservation/research project in the United States Great Plains; and the pronghorn antelope conservation project, the largest corridor connectivity assessment ever conducted in the contiguous states, involving 100 GPS-collared pronghorn on more than 10-million acres. The WWF Northern Great Plains programs constitute the largest conservation science program in the eco-region.
He is also an Affiliate Professor in the Wildlife Biology Program at the University of Montana. Dr. Kunkel completed his Ph.D. at the University of Montana, conducting research in Glacier National Park and British Columbia, the first comprehensive research project on wolves and their prey in the western U.S. He received his undergraduate degree from South Dakota State University, and his master’s degree in wildlife conservation from the University of Minnesota, studying wolves and deer in northern Minnesota under Dr. David Mech.
Previously, Kyran worked as the regional wildlife biologist for the Alaska Region of the National Park Service from 1997 to 1999, where he studied moose, wolverines, and grizzly and black bears. He was also a 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. He was also part of the team that established new populations of imperiled swift foxes in South Dakota and Montana.