As the editor played the soundbite for the film’s opening, I got goosebumps because it was compelling! We are now in the post-production phase after a year of production. It is inspiring to see all the footage coming together.
Why Did I Make the Film
I have listened for over two decades to the people concerned about Wisconsin’s wolves. The extreme voices have always dominated the media, drowning out the voices of those actively engaged in wolf recovery. This is why most of the public isn’t even aware that we have wolves here in Wisconsin. To counter this extreme, I wanted to make a film about the Wisconsin wolf and the people working to support them in recovery. These are wildlife biologists, livestock farmers, hunters, tribal members, and WI DNR staff. This film sheds light on controversies surrounding gray wolves now that they are back on the landscape and the concerns of recovery, ecology, and conservation in Wisconsin. Rachel Tilseth, Producer and Director
People & Wolves producers would like to thank Voyageurs Wolf Project for allowing us to use their videos in the film.
Meet the People
Adrian Wydeven grew up in northeast Wisconsin and had a BS in biology and wildlife management from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (1976) and an MS in wildlife ecology from Iowa State University (1979). And is a scientific advisor for the film. His master’s research was on elk ecology and food habitat in the Wind Cave National Park, SD. He worked as a wildlife manager in Missouri and Wisconsin from 1980-1990. Adrian headed up Wisconsin’s state gray wolf recovery and conservation program from 1990 through 2013 while working with other rare mammals and wildlife. He retired from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 2015 after nearly 33 years. Adrian continues actively participating in wolf surveys and conservation through the Timber Wolf Alliance and Wisconsin Green Fire.
The timing of the February wolf hunt was a concern to many of us because it was done at a time when wolves are breeding. And we felt that that was not an appropriate time to hold an intense harvest of the wolf population. Adrian Wydeven
“People tend to treat animals as things that should be managed to suit our human purposes. Wolves are highly intelligent, have a rich emotional life, and have feelings such as fear, anxiety, contentment, frustration, compassion, and so on. Wolves are intensely loyal to pack members and are likely to grieve of the death or disappearance of a close companion.” Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & Messenger of Peace.
Michael Waasegiizhig Price is the Traditional Ecological Knowledge Specialist at the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission in Odanah, WI. And is a producer/cultural advisor in the film. He is Anishinaabe and an enrolled member of Wikwemikong First Nations, Canada. His role as TEK Specialist involves integrating Anishinaabe language, cultural perspectives, and ceremony into research methods and resource management to make science more culturally relevant. Michael received his Master of Science in Forestry from the University of Montana and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Benedictine College in Atchison, KS. He also received his Certificate of Ojibwe Language Instruction from Bemidji State University.
The Anishanabbe word, Nitaage, has two meanings; to kill something for food and Mourn the death of a loved one. Michael Waasegiizhig Price
“To not hurt and kill the maiingan, Especially when they’re pregnant. Especially when they’re pregnant with little pups in there. And that’s what happened. That’s even more devastating to me personally. Woman are the backbone, that’s our backbone. And they’re the ones who’s gonna keep the communities together as the woman. So when the hunt took place this past year, they were killing, killing female maiingan.” Marvin DeFoe
Meet Peter David
Peter David is a retired wildlife biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, where he assists GLIFWC’s member tribes in implementing their off-reservation, treaty-reserved rights. He received his education (bachelor’s and master’s in Wildlife Ecology) from UW-Madison and from the tribal elders and members for whom he has worked for the last 35 years. At the Commission, he has been able to steward resources as varied as wild rice and wolves.
I think that the hunt exposed a lot of things, the brutality that took place there and the motivation for a lot of people. And I think many people in the hunting community were really offended by that hunt. Peter David
Patrick Durkin of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is an award-winning outdoor writer, newspaper columnist, and general outdoors reporter. He has been MeatEater’s wildlife research contributor since June 2018 and frequently writes for national archery and hunting magazines. Durkin also provides editing services for books and magazines and was a contributing editor/writer for the Archery Trade Association from September 2001 through January 2021.
“Cole failed more publicly in February 2021 by sitting silent when Kazmierski suggested doubling the number of harvest tags for the state’s hastily run wolf hunt. Even though Kazmierski lacks any scientific training or practical fieldwork, neither Cole nor anyone from the NRB asked him to cite precedents before approving his tag allocation.” Patrick Durkin Outdoors
Meet Edith Leoso
Edith is a tribal member of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa.
“The creator sent, who we know in English as the wolf. And that Ma’iingan (wolf) then shared that it came at a time when we could still talk to all those beings in creation. And so Ma’iingan walked with that person, that first person placed here, and was able to help them name all that there was to name, everything from this right here, to the whole plant, to each one of the plants and the grasses and all that there is in creation, and including everything that’s in the universe. All the stars were named, and all of the things.” Edith Leoso
Meet Sandy Gokee
Sandy Gokee is a member of the Bad River Band of the Great Lakes Chippewa
“That’s one of the gifts that we were given was the ability to create imagination and intellect. So I think as collectively, we all have unique gifts that we were given, and we can utilize those gifts to help bring our societies back into balance. Because this is a societal problem. It’s not just a Wisconsin wolf hunt problem. This is how we view our natural world and how we are as Anishinaabe are viewed from Western society as a whole. And that’s a generalization. We are all individuals capable of independent thought and beliefs, but as a whole in a society and a capitalist society with Western values, we are apart from nature, we are not a part of nature.” Sandy Gokee
Larry Fickbohm and Gayle Gonsior
We interviewed Larry Fickbohm and Gayle Gonsior, livestock farmers in Wisconsin’s wolf country. They are semi-retired now, but they had 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.
MEET THE FILMMAKERS
Rachel Tilseth – Producer & Director
Rachel Tilseth is an art educator, freelance writer, filmmaker, and DNR volunteer Winter Wolf Tracker. She has a Bachelor of Science in Art Education in 1992 from UW-Stout, graduating with cum laude honors. Rachel’s first teaching job was on Pine Ridge Reservation in Kyle, South Dakota. Rachel believes an art education helps students to become better consumers. Rachel is a fine artist who emphasizes watercolor and oil painting. Rachel brings her knowledge of design principles to her work as a documentary film director.
Since high school, Rachel has been an environmentalist and participated in the first Earth Day in 1971. In the 1990s, she participated in the sulfate mines protests alongside activists John Trudell and Walter Bresette at the Protect The Earth Festival near Hayward, Wisconsin. In 1991, on a howl survey in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Rachel met Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program Head Wolf Biologist, Adrian Wydeven. Seven years later, she became involved in Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program. She became a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Volunteer Winter Wolf/Carnivore Tracker in the year 2000 and, as a result, learned about the lives of wild gray wolves. As the film’s producer, Rachel brings her knowledge of Wisconsin’s wolves & the politics surrounding them.
Manish Bhatt – Producer
Manish Bhatt is a conservationist, writer, lawyer, and education leader. He holds a Bachelors of Arts magna cum laude from George Washington University, a Juris Doctor magna cum laude from St. Thomas University School of Law, and a LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center.
Having grown up in a rural New York Catskill Mountains community, Manish is committed to preserving wild spaces and wildlife. As an officer and Judge Advocate in the United States Coast Guard, Manish deployed in support of cleanup efforts following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and led section 7 consultations with federal agency partners under the Endangered Species Act. He also worked closely with the Environmental Protection Agency and State Historic Preservation Officers to ensure compliance with marine environmental laws and regulations. Manish has served as a teacher and Head of School and believes in experiential and outdoor education. As a school leader, he worked closely with fundraising partners and grant providers to ensure student success and curricular development.
Manish is a feature and investigative writer for the Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films. To each article, he brings deep curiosity and commitment to objectivity. As a lifelong learner, Manish seeks data and trend analysis as a part of his reporting, in addition to interviewing experts in wolf biology. Manish has co-hosted, alongside Rachel Tilselth, WORT Radio’s Access Hour to share wolf science and information with the listening audience.
Michael Waasegiizhig Price – Producer
Michael Waasegiizhig Price is the Consulting producer Advisor of the Ojibwe cultural advisor in the film (People & Wolves). He is the Traditional Ecological Knowledge Specialist at the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission headquartered in Odanah, WI. He is Anishinaabe and an enrolled member of Wikwemikong First Nations, Canada. His role as TEK Specialist involves integrating Anishinaabe language, cultural perspectives, and ceremony into research methods and resource management to make science more culturally relevant. Michael received his Master of Science in Forestry from the University of Montana and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Benedictine College in Atchison, KS. He also received his Certificate of Ojibwe Language Instruction from Bemidji State University.
Science Advisor – Adrian Wydeven
Adrian WydevenAdrian Wydeven grew up in northeast Wisconsin and has a BS in biology and wildlife management from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (1976), and an MS in wildlife ecology from Iowa State University (1979). His master’s research was on elk’s ecology and food habitat in the Wind Cave National Park, SD. He worked as a wildlife manager in Missouri and Wisconsin from 1980-1990. Adrian headed up Wisconsin’s state gray wolf recovery and conservation program from 1990 through 2013 while working with other rare mammals and wildlife. He retired from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 2015 after nearly 33 years. Adrian continues actively participating in wolf surveys and conservation through the Timber Wolf Alliance and Wisconsin Green Fire.