Is this the Last Stand for Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf?

Behind the Eyes of a Dog

The pup stepped forward, smelling the air, and then stopped. The puppy abruptly stepped back. The young canine looked around for Mother, and she was just behind him. She nudged him forward—a family of Canis lupus who became Canis lupus familiaris. The ancestor of man’s best friend faces numerous threats on all fronts.

This morning I opened my Google alerts to find the following: Save Our Wildlife-Manage Wolves Now, Sportsmens Alliance Coalition USFWS to Delist Wolves… And I was discussing the Petition with my friend from Italy, Brunella, and she said, aren’t the wolves wildlife too?

Besides this petition, there are several wolf-delisting bills in Congress and one in the Wisconsin legislature.

Congressman Tom Tiffany’s office has a  bill in Congress. Reps. Tom Tiffany (WI-07) and Lauren Boebert (CO-03) led 21 Members of Congress in introducing the Trust the Science Act to permanently delist the gray wolf in the lower 48 and ensure that action is not subject to judicial review. The full text of the Trust the Science Act is available here. The second bill, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Northern Great Lakes Wolf Recovery Act, new legislation to develop a regional-specific plan based on science to delist the gray wolf population in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The legislation would create an advisory committee comprised of members representing agriculture, Native and Tribal communities, heads of impacted-state agencies, and wolf management experts and scientists to create the final delisting rule for the region. A one-pager on this legislation is available here. The full text of this legislation is available here.

Lastly,  Senator Ron Johnson’s office reintroduction of their bill: U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), along with three of his Republican colleagues, reintroduced legislation to return management of gray wolf populations to the states and delist the gray wolf as endangered and threatened wildlife under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The full text of the bill can be found here.

Along the same lines, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation has been holding public listening sessions demanding the wolf population goal of 350. It’s almost overwhelming to comprehend all these threats facing Wisconsin’s wild wolf, a mere population of 1,000 individuals.

To the Ojibwe people, he is known as Ma’iingan, brother, and more than a human being whose fate is tied to the Ojibwe, as retired wildlife biologist Peter David has said, who has spent most of his career learning about the wolf from Ojibwe elders. Michael Waasegiizhig Price and elder Marvin DeFoe beautifully articulate the role of Ma’iingan in the following teaser clip.

Watch the following People & Wolves teaser clip.

This film is even more critical today than when we began a year ago. The wolf all but disappeared in Wisconsin’s forests some 50 years ago. Now back on the; landscape, I can’t help but wonder what his future will hold. As Congress debates its place, will there be a compromise among all these factions?

In the meantime, wolf recovery continues with a dedicated husband and wife team, Tracking Wisconsin’s Elusive Gray Wolf in the northern forests, Adrian Wydeven and Sarah Boles.  Adrian spent several decades as head of the Wisconsin Wolf Recovery Program and is now retired. Adrian remains actively involved in wolf surveys and conservation through the Timber Wolf Alliance and Wisconsin Green Fire. The couple works together to survey gray wolves for the Wisconsin DNR. Watch the following teaser.

Patrick Durkin, an awarding winning outdoor writer, understands why some hunters feel the wolf is a resource competitor. Watch the following People & Wolves Teaser interview by producer Manish Bhatt.

One of the film’s most significant contributors is a hunter who profoundly respects the wolf. Many hunters like him believe the same way and thought the February 2021 wolf hunt gave hunters a black eye. Watch the trailer.

We interviewed Larry Fickbohm and Gayle Gonsior, livestock farmers in Wisconsin’s wolf country. They are semi-retired now, but they had 300 sheep and used livestock guard dogs, Maremmas, to protect the farm. They believe farming in wolf country requires you to save the lives of wolves and livestock.

Watch the short teaser.

A year ago, we assembled interview questions for Dr. Jane Gooadll, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace, who agreed to be in the film. Working with Dr. Jane Goodall, whom the filmmakers deeply respect, is a pleasure and honor! Dr. Goodall feels many people fear wolves because of stories handed down from generation to generation. One way of counteracting these myths is by promoting The Jungle Book and Romulus and Remus. Watch the People & Wolves Teaser Clip “Interview of Dr. Jane Goodall”


As the wheel of fortune spins for the wolf, the question is which congressional delisting legislation it will land on: will it be the one that ends all judicial review or the legislation that creates an upper Great Lakes Recover Act that places the wolf on threatened status Like in Minnesota, and establishes a committee of stakeholders, including the tribes, also allowing for a  review in five years?
In summary, I hope that the domestic dog, man’s best friend, is thinking along the same lines as the following quote:
“We are a spirit, we are a natural part of the earth, and all of our ancestors, all of our relations who have gone to the spirit world, they are here with us. That’s power. They will help us. They will help us to see if we are willing to look.” —John Trudell.
People & Wolves, a Wisconsin Story Mired in Political Intrigue, is in its final production phase. If you would like to support the film by making a tax-deductible donation through the film’s fiscal sponsor, click the following red button! And thank you for your support.


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