The Film

People & Wolves ™

A Wisconsin Story Mired in Political Intrigue” ™

The film tells the story of Wisconsin’s gray wolves, the controversies surrounding them, and how people learn to coexist as these native predators are finally back on the landscape after nearly 45 years. ™

Featuring 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. Her work began in Tanzania, where she studied chimpanzees’ social and familial behaviors. She is considered the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees. Her work has been critical to conservation and animal welfare efforts. I first made contact with Dr. Goodall back in 1999. I told her about Wisconsin’s wolf recovery program to which she responded with three handwritten postcards from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Africa.   I decided to ask her if she would be willing to appear in our film project, and I sent her an email.  I received a response from her the next day, agreeing to be in the film!  How fortunate to have Dr. Jane Goodall speaking up for Wisconsin’s wild gray wolf!  ™

The Trailer ™


People & Wolves, a Wisconsin Story Mired in Political Intrigue. The documentary will examine the various people involved between opposing forces for over a decade, culminating in court battles. People & Wolves will present the viewer with the story of Wisconsin’s gray wolves and the controversy surrounding them on both sides. Since Gray wolves recolonized parts of Wisconsin, the viewer will learn; how it affects people living in the wolf’s territory as a part of the story that must be told. The film will interview state agency personnel, biologists, livestock owners, farmers, tribes, and hunters to get a complete picture presenting their stories.




Adrian Wydeven

Marvin DeFoe

Peter David

Producer & Director:

Rachel Tilseth


Manish Bhatt


Tyler Grape



A Wisconsin Sory Mired in Political Intrigue 

Can the state resolve the controversies surrounding wolf management? 

Film Treatment 

This film will tell the story of Wisconsin’s gray wolves and the controversy surrounding them.

This documentary will examine the various people involved, between several opposing forces for over a decade culminating with court battles.  

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. Still, 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. 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 any 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, wolf management remains in limbo.


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