Tag Archives: ESA

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 finally back on the landscape after nearly 60 years.

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



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”.







There’s No Price Tag on Our Mother Earth…

…Get involved. Protect the earth from unscrupulous land grabbers. In the early 1990s I met activists John Trudell, Floyd Crow Westermman and Walter Bresette at a Protect the Earth Pow Wow held on the Lac Court Oreilles reservation in northern Wisconsin. Back then it was about Native Spearfishing exercising rights off the reservation and Sulfate Mines in ceded territories.

“One Earth, one mother – one does not sell the Earth.” ~John Trudell

I participated in the protests of a gold mine at Ladysmith.  I remember walking into the site, and having to be so careful not to trip over the television new’s crews. The TV crews were laying on the ground filming our feet as we walked by them. I watched as Walter Bresette hit the bulldozers with the war club of the famous Sauk chief Black Hawk. The war club was a gift given to Bresette for his work. I remember helicopters flying over-head watching our every move.

“Oil is drowning our oceans and drowning our boreal forests.” ~Winona LaDuke

Today my activism is about protecting the Gray Wolf. The Gray wolf has become the most talked about animal as of late. Thousands of activists across the world are working to preserve the Gray Wolf’s legacy from unscrupulous land grabbing; special interests that want the wolf as a trophy, and his habitat.

Photograph of Gray wolf credit: NPS

These unscrupulous land grabbers are working to rewrite the Endangered Species Act in order to accommodate the extractive industries of oil & gas, mining and lumber. We cannot afford to lose this fight!

Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, released draft legislation That will significantly overhaul the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under Barrasso’s proposal, individual states would be given key authority over the federal program to conserve threatened and endangered species.

Earthjustice anticipated Barrasso’s legislative proposal more than a year ago. The environmental law nonprofit said that Barrasso has received substantial campaign contributions from extractive industries that wish to mine or drill land that overlaps with wildlife habitat. Citing campaign finance records, from 2011 until 2016, Barrasso received $458,466 in total campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, plus $241,706 from the mining industry.

The Endangered Species Act, passed by Congress four decades ago, is the nation’s safety net for fish, plants ,and wildlife on the brink of extinction. More than 99 percent of species that have been designated for federal protection continue to exist in the wild today, including the bald eagle, grizzly bear, the leatherback sea turtle, and the Florida manatee.

The valley below the Roan Plateau is dotted by oil and gas development. Photo credit: Ecolight

…That’s the beauty, or bounty, that the Endangered Species Act provides. The ESA ensures these beneficial ecosystems just don’t unravel. You see the Endangered Species Act doesn’t just protect the individual species, it also protects the lands, or habitats, the endangered species need to survive. For sure protecting these habitats can make it difficult for certain industries, mainly extractive industries, such as; oil & gas, mining and lumbering. Renewable energy is out pacing coal, oil & gas extractive industries in America. It’s a well known fact that, extractive industries cause more harm for our vital ecosystems; such as land, water, air and wildlife. But there are several politicians, like Senator Barrasso, Republican from Wyoming, that supports these extractive industries and wants to rewrite the ESA to accommodate these dying-extractive-industries. Read more click here.

How to contact U.S. Senators

You can contact your senators by writing a letter or a message using your senator’s web contact form, by calling, or by visiting. All questions and comments regarding public policy issues, legislation, or requests for personal assistance should be directed to the senators from your state. Please be aware that as a matter of professional courtesy, many senators will acknowledge, but not respond to, a message from another senator’s constituent.

Contacting The Senate

By E-mail

All questions and comments regarding public policy issues, legislation, or requests for personal assistance should be directed to the Senators from your State. Some Senators have e-mail addresses while others post comment forms on their web sites. When sending e-mail to your Senator, please include your return postal mailing address. Please be aware that as a matter of professional courtesy, many Senators will acknowledge, but not respond to, a message from another Senator’s constituent.

By Postal Mail

You can direct postal correspondence to your Senator or to other U.S.Senate offices at the following address:

For correspondence to U.S. Senators:

Office of Senator (Name)

United States Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

For correspondence to Senate Committees:

(Name of Committee)

United States Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

By Telephone

Alternatively, you may phone the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.

There’s just one genuine wolf species in America 

The gray wolf is a the only wolf species in America and: Wolves should remain protected according to a new study from Princeton-UCLA .  This is a game changer making it vital to protect wolves.  Wolves are here to stay now, and it’s even more important to learn ways to coexist with this imperiled species. 

Researchers from Princeton University and the University of California-Los Angeles who investigated the genetic ancestry of North America’s wild canines have concluded that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s scientific arguments for removing gray wolves from endangered species protection are incorrect.”  Cited source

This Recent news proves how important it is to keep wolves listed under the Endangered Species Act. Wolves are here to stay and it’s vital that humans learn how to coexist. 

Wolves, bats & dirty politics – the ESA was designed to protect species and the ecosystems on which they depend.

Just what does dirty politics have to do with Wisconsin’s bats & wolves?  Ask Senator Ron Johnson (R) why he wants Wisconsin’s Northern Long-eared Bat & the wolf kept off of the Endandaged Species Lists. You’ll find the answer to that question buried deep within political agendas fueled by special interest’s money. It’s all tied to where the wolf and Northern Long-Eared bat live and the protections under the Endangered Species Act. 

The fate of bats and wolves 

Recent news in Wisconsin has Senator Ron Johnson (R) introduced an amendment that would remove wolves from federal Endangered Species Act protections in four states and no judicial review.  

This rider also contained an amendment submitted by Senator Ron Johnson as follows:

  “…submitted an amendment intended to be proposed to amendment SA 2953 proposed by Ms. Murkowski to the bill S. 2012, to provide for the modernization of the energy policy of the United States, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as following: Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service shall not list the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).” Source

The ESA was designed to protect species and the ecosystems on which they depend 

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) was signed on December 28, 1973, and provides for the conservation of species that are endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant portion of their range, and the conservation of the ecosystems on which they depend.” 

Northern Long-eared Bat Listed as Threatened  by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service according to a press release issued on January 13, 2016. 

This action to protect the Northern Long-Eared Bat is due to a disease called White-Nose Syndrome  that has killed millions of north America’s bats since 2006.   

According to U.S. fish & Wildlife Service the reason these bats need ESA protections is: “Unfortunately, this particular bat is one of the species hardest hit by the disease, white-nose syndrome. In forests of the Northeast, population declines have been dramatic in a very short time. Declines of up to 99 percent have been documented through hibernacula surveys and substantiated by summer surveys.”  Source


Northern long-eared bat with symptoms of white-nose syndrome. Photo by Steve Taylor; University of Illinois

What is White-Nose Syndrome?
“White-nose Syndrome (WNS) is a fungal disease that has killed millions of bats in North America. The disease is caused by a fungus from Eurasia, which was accidentally transported here by humans.” Cited from: Bat Conservation International

About the Northern Long-Eared Bat 

“Northern Long-Eared Bat, Myotis septentrionalis, The northern long-eared bat is federally listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Endangered species are animals and plants that are in danger of becoming extinct. Threatened species are animals and plants that are likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future. Identifying, protecting, and restoring endangered and threatened species is the primary objective of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species program.” Cited from: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Northern Long-eared bats summer in forests living under the bark of trees, and hibernate in caves during winter. Bats are essential for keeping disease ridden insects such as, the mosquito that carries the West Nile Virus in check. The Norther Long-Eared Bat eats moths, flies, leafhoppers, caddisflies, and beetles, which they catch while in flight using echolocation or by gleaning motionless insects from vegetation according to the the U.S. Fish & Wildlife FAQS on Northern Long-Eared Bats.

Wolves like the Northern Long-Eared Bat are essential for the health of our ecosystems 

When wolves were re-introduced into Yellowstone National Park after an absence of nearly 70 years the most remarkable “trophic cascade” occurred. Watch the following video ‘How Wolves Change Rivers’ 

Wolves, bats and dirty politics 

The ESA protects the threatened or endangered species, and the ecosystems on which they depend. So why do politicians, like Senator Ron Johnson (WI-R) want to keep the Northern Long-Eared Bat from being listed as endangered and the wolf delisted from the ESA? 

The answer to that question lies deep within the motives of mineral, lumber, oil & gas and Big Agriculture companies that want this critical habitat for their own special interests. Are these companies lobbying politicians like, Senator Ron Johnson to keep the wolf & the Northern Long-Eared Bat off the ESA?  Shall we allow dirty politics to throw critically endangered species under the bus and undermine decades of environmental progress made under the ESA?  

Senator Ron Johnson (WI-R) is up for re-election this November. Check his record HERE.

We can’t leave people in abject poverty, so we need to raise the standard of living for 80% of the world’s people, while bringing it down considerably for the 20% who are destroying our natural resources.  ~Jane Goodall


Featured image by John E Marriott Photography

Reader’s view: Courts did the right thing for wolf management

Reader’s response to a Duluth News opinion piece by two Wisconsin senators Wisconsinites’ view from D.C.: Wolf policy should recognize people By U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble on Feb 3, 2016 at 12:10 a.m.

Source: Duluth News a Tribune
By E. August Allen from Milford, Conn. Today at 12:10 a.m.

This is in response to the Feb. 3 column from U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, both of Wisconsin and both of whom have led congressional efforts to legislatively delist wolves (“Wolf policy should recognize people”).
Sen. Johnson’s bill served as the Senate companion to the House bill introduced by Congressman Ribble earlier last year to “allow the Great Lakes states to continue the effective work they are doing in managing wolf populations without undermining the Endangered Species Act.” Yet the horrific slaughter of wolves directly after delisting in Wisconsin was an abomination. One would indeed call it “effective work” if the goal was to extirpate the wolves.
In Wisconsin, the population of wolves was just 800 in 2011. In a matter of three years (since delisting), Wisconsin lost at least 518 wolves to legalized hunting, hounding, trapping and annual unenforced quota overkills. The 518 wolves killed did not include wolves killed at the request of livestock operators for “depredation control” (which was 170 wolves), wolves killed on roadways yearly (25), or wolves killed illegally (estimated conservatively at 100 a year). Factor in annual wolf pup mortality at up to 75 percent, and this has been a disaster of catastrophic proportions. Hardly a wolf management plan integrating the “best available science.” This moral bankruptcy and ineptness is not a way to treat a species recently removed from the Endangered Species Act.
History has demonstrated, time and again, that societal values ultimately determine the survival of a species as controversial as the wolf. The “management” of this species evokes a wide range of public attitudes, polarized views and prolonged contention — a prolonged contention that usually is followed by this sort of mismanagement. There is a reason the courts returned protections to Wisconsin’s wolves, and I believe that reason is quite obvious.
E. August Allen
Milford, Conn.