For years I have wanted to make a film about people and wolves. I want to tell the story of Wisconsin’s gray wolves and the controversy surrounding them from all sides. I have been active in wolf recovery, learning about gray wolves and the people helping educate the public for over twenty years. Gray wolves recolonized parts of Wisconsin, and how it affected people living in wolf range is a part of the broader story that needs to be told.
I want to tell the stories of the people working on wolf conservation and education in Wisconsin. Adrian Wydeven headed up the state gray wolf recovery and conservation program in Wisconsin for 33 years. Adrian continues to be actively involved in wolf conservation. I want to give the audience an in-depth view of Adrian’s expert experience as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wolf biologist during recovery and how to move forward despite the politics hindering progress in wolf recovery. Wydeven said the following,
“The timing of the February wolf hunt was a concern to many of us because it was done at a time that wolves are breeding. And we felt that that was not an appropriate time to hold an intense harvest of the wolf population.”
Marvin DeFoe is a contributing author of the Ma’iingan Relationship Plan and a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Marvin is passionate about maintaining and revitalizing the Ojibwe language. He will tell the viewers the significance of the wolf to his people in the Ojibwe culture. Defoe said the following,
“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 Ma”iingan.”
Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace. Dr. Goodall believes wolves are an iconic species of the American landscape and play an extremely vital role in the ecosystem where they live. Wolves should be treated with respect for individuality and the role he or she plays in the social life of the pack. Dr. Goodall said,
“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.”
Peter David has spent his career as a wolf biologist learning from Ojibwe elders; the Anishinabe word for wolf is Ma’iingan. To the Ojibwe, the wolf is a teacher and a brother. They believe what happens to the wolf happens to them. Peter David thinks the wolf needs two things to survive: adequate prey and not to be persecuted by people. Peter David said,
“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.”
I want the audience to learn about wolf conservation by interviewing the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, USFWS personnel, and key stakeholders such as livestock owners, biologists, and hunters.
Using Scenic Establishing shots, I want the audience to have a complete picture of the scenery within the wolf range. The viewers will be given a glimpse of the wolves habitat from the shores of Lake Superior, lakes, rivers, northern and central forests, rural communities, and the astonishing views covering all four seasons.
Many different aspects go into making a film, especially when capturing footage of wild animals. Wolves are elusive creatures, and the gray wolf is nearly impossible to spot in the wild. We hope to acquire footage through trail cams from Voyageurs Wolf Project.
There is a rich and diverse story that will capture the public’s imagination. After being killed off by the 1950s, Gay wolves began to recolonize Wisconsin in the 1970s, and by 2020 there were 1000 wolves. With this film, the viewers will learn about the various factors that wolves affect from an ecological standpoint and the human element. Wolves are a keystone species, and we hope that telling this story can add further insight into the wolves’ importance in the role of nature. With healthy wolf populations, entire ecosystems can be put in balance. As a keystone species, wolves have a significant role in other wildlife populations within the food chain that ripple down to plant communities. The film will bring awareness to the public through discovering the Gray wolves’ story; People & Wolves is a Wisconsin story mired in political intrigue.