People and Wolves producers discuss the filmmaking process, and what they want to achieve with the film’s message.

Friday, April 7, 30023  Wolf Connection Podcast interview with producer and director Rachel Tilseth and associate producer Manish Bhatt aired.


Rachel and Manish spoke about the filmmaking process, the impact these issues have had on them, and what they want to achieve with the film’s message. Listen on Spotify

This documentary will examine the people involved, between several opposing forces for over a decade, culminating in court battles.  The film features Adrian Wydeven, Marvin DeFoe, Peter David, Michael Waasagiizhig Price,  Patrick Durkin, and Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace, including interviews with farmers, hunters, WDNR staff, and Ojibwe tribal members. 

The film tells the story of Wisconsin’s gray wolves, the controversies surrounding them, and how people learn to coexist as these native predators are again fulfilling their ecological role after returning to the state about 45 years ago.


Gray wolves recolonized parts of Wisconsin in the 1970s after being killed off in the state in the 1950s and grew to a population of over 1000 wolves by 2020. Unfortunately, this conservation success story has become very controversial in the last decade. Federal and state endangered species acts have helped recover wolves in the state. Still, four attempts by the federal government to delist wolves from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) have resulted in court challenges returning wolves to the endangered list. After federal delisting in 2012, the Wisconsin legislature mandated that wolf hunts be required whenever gray wolves were off the ESA list. 


The most recent delisting battle started in January 2021, leading to a court-ordered three-day controversial wolf hunt during the breeding season in February. It went over the allotted quota, angering many Wisconsinites. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) began work on a new state Wolf Management Plan last completed in 1999. The DNR formed a committee of stakeholders, including the tribes.

What the trailer.


Ojibwe bands in Red Cliff and Bad River have their own, Ma’iingan (Wolf) Relationship Plans. The state must work with the tribes on wolf management, including hunting seasons. Political battles began over how to manage the next hunt in November 2021. The struggle between the DNR, its Natural Resources Board, and pro-wolf advocates ended with several lawsuits and one that yielded an injunction to stop the November 2021 wolf hunt. The Six Ojibwe tribes sued and claimed the wolf hunt violated their treaty rights. A year after the controversial wolf hunt, a California judge ordered gray wolves in much of the lower 48 states on the ESA list on February 18, 2022. Though gray wolves have numerically recovered in Wisconsin, the future of wolf management remains in limbo in the state.

The People & Wolves film project is working to capture the story as it happens.  A Wisconsin story mired in political intrigue. Wolves generate strong emotions on both sides. The latest political intrigue concerns the release of public comments on the Wolf Management Plan draft.

Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan 

Thanks to everyone who took the time to provide a comment on the proposed Wolf Management Plan. The public review and comment period officially closed on Feb. 28, 2023, and the DNR no longer accepts official comments on the proposed plan. The public can review the comments online.

DNR staff are reviewing comments and will use them to consider revisions to the proposed Wolf Management Plan. Once ready, the final plan will then be presented to the Natural Resources Board.

If you are interested in staying current on what is happening with the Wolf Management Plan, please consider subscribing to the Wolf Management Plan mailing list.




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