People & Wolves
A Wisconsin Wolves Mired in Political Controversy”
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, but 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 would 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, and 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 that was last completed in 1999. The DNR formed a committee of stakeholders, including the tribes. ™
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 back on the ESA on February 18, 2022. Though gray wolves have numerically recovered in Wisconsin, the future of wolf management remains in limbo in the state. ™
Meet the People
Adrian 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 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.
Marvin DeFoe is a contributing author of the Ma’iingan Relationship Plan and a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He is an educator, teacher, birch bark canoe builder, and Red Cliff elder. He grew up in the Red Cliff community and is part of the Sturgeon clan. Named Shingway Banase in Anishinaabe, he is passionate about maintaining and revitalizing the Ojibwe language. Marvin is the past Vice Chair of the tribal council and has been the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for four years.
“Wolves are considered sacred by the Ojibwe, who see them as their “brothers,” according to Marvin Defoe, an elder of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. “The legends and stories tell us as brothers we walk hand in hand together. What happens to the Ma’iingan [wolves] happens to humanity.”
Peter David is a retired wildlife biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, where he assisted 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 had the opportunity to steward resources as varied as wild rice and wolves.
An appearance by Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace.
Visit our website at: www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com
Meet the Filmmakers
Rachel Tilseth Producer & Director
Rachel Tilseth the Producer & Director of the film project is a retired art educator, freelance writer, and filmmaker. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education, 1992, from UW-Stout, graduating with cum laude honors. Rachel brings her knowledge of principles of design to her work as a documentary film director. In 2000 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 producer of the film, Rachel brings her knowledge of Wisconsin’s wolves & politics surrounding them.
The film will address how people are learning to coexist as these native predators.
Manish Bhatt Producer
Manish Bhatt is a conservationist, writer, lawyer, and education leader. He holds a Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from George Washington University, a Juris Doctor magna cum laude from St. Thomas University School of Law, and an LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center.
Having grown up in a rural community in New York’s Catskill Mountains, Manish has a lifelong commitment 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 the field of wolf biology. Manish has co-hosted, alongside Rachel Tilselth, WORT Radio’s Access Hour to share wolf science and information with the listening audience.
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