Tag Archives: Documentary film project

Film Project: “People & Wolves” The Wisconsin Story (WT)

Wolves Mired in Political Intrigue 

Gray Wolf Credit https://www.voyageurswolfproject.org/

 

The film tells the story of Wisconsin’s gray wolves, the controversies surrounding them, and how people are learning to coexist as these native predators are again fulfilling their ecological role after returning to the state about 45 years ago.

Featuring: Dr. Jane Goodall, Adrian Wydeven and Marvin DeFoe

Rachel Tilseth: Producer & Director and Manish Bhatt: Producer

The film will tell the story of Wisconsin’s gray wolves and the controversy that surrounds 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, but four attempts by the federal government to delisting 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 any wolf 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 also 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

For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack. ~The Jungle Book

Adrian Wydeven grew up in northeast Wisconsin, and has a BS in biology and wildlife management from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (1976), and an MS in wildlife ecology from Iowa State University (1979). His master’s research was on the ecology and food habitat of elk in the Wind Cave National Park, SD. He worked as a wildlife manager in Missouri and Wisconsin from 1980-1990. Adrian headed up the state gray wolf recovery and conservation program for Wisconsin from 1990 through 2013, while also 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 to be actively involved in wolf surveys and conservation through the Timber Wolf Alliance and Wisconsin Green Fire.

Marvin DeFoe a contributing author of the Ma’iingan Relationship Plan and 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  he is passionate about maintenance and revitalization of the Ojibwe language. Marvin is past Vice Chair on the tribal council and has been the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for four years.

Dr. Jane Goodall  is a world famous primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and 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 the social and familial behaviors of chimpanzees. She is considered the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees. Her work has been critical to conservation and animal welfare efforts.

There are more people to come…

Meet the Filmmakers

Rachel Tilseth Producer & Director

Rachel Tilseth is an art educator, freelance writer, producer/director, environmentalist, and DNR volunteer Winter wolf tracker.  She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education, 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 emphasizing 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 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. Rachel brings her knowledge of Wisconsin’s wolf & the politics surrounding them to the film.

Manish Bhatt Producer

Manish Bhatt is a conservationist, writer, lawyer and education leader. He holds a Bachelors of Arts magna cum laude from The 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 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.

“Gray wolves a native species, existing on the landscape have an innate right to exist, and a right to occur within areas of suitable habitat on the landscape. It’s important that we point out the ecological justification for their benefits, but at the same time, they have an innate right to exist. We need to appreciate that and allow them to persist and live on the landscape.” —Adrian Wydeven

Benjamin Coffey – Bio

Benjamin Coffey will be carrying the role of a Cinematographer in the film, People and Wolves. He is owner of two Film & Media Production companies based in Charlotte, North Carolina. These agencies supply high-end, custom content for clients internationally. Coffey has five years of professional experience in visual storytelling. After receiving his Associates at Liberty University, Coffey regularly attends certified training for RED and ARRI Camera Systems in LA & Chicago. He has collaborated on over 250 Productions in Europe, Asia, and North America. Benjamin Coffey has represented a variety of corporate clients such as Google, Disney, Dreamville, GK Hair, Lingodeer, and a variety of other top-rated Agencies and Corporations.

Previous Narrative Film projects have been decorated and screened in International Festivals such as LA Film Awards 2020, New York Film Awards 2020, Top Shorts 2020, Flickfair 2021, Festigious Los Angeles 2020, and more. He has been complimented on his use of applying technical knowledge to the emotional connections of a scene. As a cinematographer, Coffey seeks safe, efficient, and reliable methods of storytelling to bring a director’s vision to life.www.benjamincoffey.com

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm9257706/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

www.linkedin.com/in/benjamincoffey2

Our Vision

The most important goal of our documentary films is scientific facts about wolves and the ecosystems they impact. Through our films, the viewer can gain biological knowledge. As a result, this increases their overall awareness of gray wolves.

Our films give people an opportunity to see wild wolves where they live. We show the viewer the beautiful places where wolves are abundant. Therefore, our films bring these experiences right to the viewer.

Our films are meaningful stories where people can learn something. Our films achieve this through high-end research, storytelling and professional filming. Through this, it provides viewers with something of great value to watch.

Our films will make the viewer stop and think about how the human race is impacting wildlife, specifically gray wolves. After watching our films the viewer will think longer & deeper about the meaning of the film’s message.

We envision a world where coexistence between people & wolves is the “norm”.

 

EDIT

 

 

 

 

Teaching Compassion—Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy Documentary Film Series

The Yellowstone Story

Director Statement by Rachel Tilseth

This is a story of passion, endurance and fighting even when the odds are against you. In this story I want to introduce you to four courageous people working to preserve the legacy of Yellowstone’s wolves. People either love or hate the wolf, and he’s been long misunderstood for many centuries.

Thousands of people in vehicles line the roads in Yellowstone National Park hoping for a glimpse of a wild wolf. People are everywhere, dozens at a time, searching through spotting scopes for wolves. One of these wolf watchers is advocate Ilona Popper, whose passion for wolves can be clearly heard in her voice. We introduce the viewer to ilona Popper as she sets up her spotting scope in Lamar Valley home to one of Yellowstone’s beloved wolf packs. As Ilona speaks you can hear the urgency in her voice because it’s September and the Montana wolf hunt is just around the corner. She recounts the tragic story of a famous alpha female wolf that was killed by a wolf hunter after she left the sanctuary of the park.

Time lapses will introduce the viewer to the ever changing weather that wolves face in Yellowstone.

Drones are not allowed in the park boundaries but aerial footage will, along with the time lapses, give a perspective of the immensity of the park landscapes.

We introduce the viewer to Dr. Nathan Varley as he hikes in a picturesque landscape that is Yellowstone in winter, and is set at the Buffalo Ranch situated near the Lamar river. Dr. Varley is on a hike with wolf watcher clients where he explains the history of Yellowstone’s wolf reintroduction. Throughout the year, Dr. Varley along with his business partner and wife Linda Thurston, take their clients into the park every morning.

We introduce you to Marc Cooke President of Wolves of the Rockies during a spring snow storm and within view of the famous northern gate of Yellowstone. The viewer will see herds of bison, elk and antelope in spring time grazing on the moist green grasses as Marc talks about the famous Lamar Valley wolf pack. I will introduce the viewer to cell phone audio of the Lamar Valley wolf packs’ hauntingly mournful howls that was recorded at the very same spot where their family member was killed by a wolf hunter just outside of the park.

I will introduce the viewer to Yellowstone’s wolf watcher community; then you will watch them as they move from one pull out to the next counting wolves. You’ll hear engine noise from above as the head Yellowstone Wolf Project staff Dr. Doug Smith flies about counting wolves. The viewer will meet Yellowstone Wolf Project staff Kira Cassidy as she talks about wolf pack dynamics, recounting observations of one wolf pack’s struggle for survival, against the back drop of the Yellowstone River in Winter.

Film Treatment

What happens as Yellowstone wolves leave the sanctuary of the park? The states that border Yellowstone National Park hold legal trophy hunts. Meet the Advocates Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story

A famous wolf, known as 06, lost her life to a trophy hunter as she left the the park’s sanctuary in 2012. Six years later 06’s daughter, known as Spitfire, wolf 926F suffered the same fate in November 2018. Today, Wolves in Yellowstone have become the “rock stars” of their species due to the hundreds of thousands of people that venture into the park hoping for a glimpse of a Yellowstone wolf. Meet the advocates that work to preserve the legacy of Yellowstone National Park wolves as they face an uncertain future from legal trophy hunts just beyond the border. Advocates: Ilona Popper, Nathan Varley, Linda Thurston & Marc Cooke. A Wolves of Douglas County WI Films LLC, http://www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com produced by Maaike Middleton and Rachel Tilseth Directed by Rachel Tilseth.

Learn More About This film project click here.