A Wisconsin wild wolf. Photo credit Snapshot Wisconsin.

Directors Statement 

People & Wolves: The Wisconsin Story ™

For Years I have wanted to make a film about gray wolves People & Wolves: The Wisconsin Story. This documentary examines the various people involved between several opposing forces for over a decade, culminating with court battles and wolf hunts. I want to show the viewer the story of Wisconsin’s gray wolves and the controversy surrounding them from both sides. I have been learning about gray wolves and the people helping to educate the public for more than twenty years now. Gray wolves recolonized parts of Wisconsin; how it affects people living in the wolf range is a part of the broader story that needs to be told.

WODCW’s logo designed by Rachel Tilseth. The wolf in the design is White Eyes a wolf of Douglas County, Wisconsin. She was the Alpha female of the Bird Sanctuary pack and a wolf Rachel tracked for nine years and she died in 2009 struck by a vehicle. ™

I want to tell the stories of the people working to preserve the legacy of wolves 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 inside view of Adrian’s expert experience as a biologist and the politics surrounding wolf conservation. 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 the maintenance and revitalization of the Ojibwe language, and he will tell the viewers the significance of the wolf to the Ojibwe culture. Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace. She is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and Roots and Shoots. Dr. Goodall believes wolves are an iconic species of the American landscape, and they play an extremely vital role in the ecosystem where they live. I want the audience to learn about Wisconsin wolf conservation by interviewing the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, USFWS personnel, and key stakeholders such as livestock owners, biologists and hunters.

Adrian Wydeven checking on the health of a Wisconsin wild wolf.

I want the audience to have a complete picture of the scenery within the wolf range by using Scenic Establishing shots.  The viewers will view the shores of Lake Superior, lakes, rivers, northern and central forests, rural communities, and the astonishing views covering all four seasons.

A road into Bird Sanctuary Pack in northern Wisconsin. Credit Rachel Tilseth

Many different aspects go into making a film, especially when trying to capture footage of wild animals. Wolves are elusive creatures, and the gray wolf is nearly impossible to spot in the wild. Nonetheless, we are hoping for the chance to acquire quality footage through trail cams from Voyageurs Wolf Project in wolf recovery areas as we learn about their journey from the verge of extinction nearly sixty 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. With this film, the viewers will learn about the various factors that wolves affect from both 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 wolf’s range and the importance they have in the role of nature. Without healthy wolf populations, entire ecosystems can be thrown out of balance. As a keystone species, wolves have a significant role on other wildlife populations within the food chain that ripple down to plant communities. The film will bring awareness through the process of discovering the Gray wolves’ story, “People & Wolves,” The Wisconsin Story.

A tree in Northern Wisconsin’s wolf range. Credit Rachel Tilseth.



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