Tag Archives: Film

People & Wolves Film Project Will Interview Dr. Jane Goodall

People & Wolves: The Wisconsin Story

Wolves Mired in Political Intrigue

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.

We have been in contact with Dr. Jane Goodall about what’s been happening to Wisconsin’s wild gray wolf and she has graciously agreed to be our first interview!

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.

I first made contact with  Dr. Goodall back in 1999.  I let her know all 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 very next day agreeing  to be interviewed.  How fortunate it is to have Dr. Jane Goodall speaking up for Wisconsin’s wild gray wolf!  The (Zoom)  interview is set for the second week in June.

More Information about  http://People & Wolves: The Wisconsin Story is available on this website. The documentary will examine the various people involved between several opposing forces for over a decade culminating with 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 broader 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.

Featuring:

Dr. Jane Goodall,

Adrian Wydeven

Marvin DeFoe

Peter David

 

Producer & Director:

Rachel Tilseth

Producer:

Manish Bhatt

Cinematographer:

Benjamin Coffey

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

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

 

 

 

 

Movie Review: “The Wolf and the Lion”

The Wolf and the Lion” in theaters February 4, 2022.

A wolf pup and a lost lion cub are rescued by a girl in the heart of the Canadian wilderness. Their friendship will change their lives forever.

Film plot: A headstrong music student from New York who attends her grandfather’s funeral on a remote Canadian island and unexpectedly discovers a lost lion cub who had been destined for the Vancouver circus, before also rescuing an endangered, female wolf who is being pursued by researchers. At Alma’s cabin, the wolf gives birth to a single cub, Mozart, who immediately bonds with the rescued lion cub, Dreamer. The wolf mother is soon captured and Alma is left to tend to the babies. But their world soon collapses as Mozart and Dreamer are captured and separated, and must embark on a treacherous journey to be reunited as Alma also searches for them.

Staring Molly Kunz and Graham Greene

Release date: February 4, 2022 (USA), Director: Gilles de Maistre, Producers: Gilles de Maistre, Jacques Perrin, Catherine Camborde, Valentine Perrin, Claude Léger, Jonathan Vanger, Nicolas Elghozi, Sylvain Proulx, Screenplay: Gilles de Maistre, Prune de Maistre, Story by: Gilles de Maistre, Prune de Maistre

Animal Stars trained at Instinct, Animals For Film

An Unlikely Friendship. An Incredible Adventure.

“The Wolf and the Lion is a glimmer of hope! I’m looking forward to seeing this film because it’s been a rough year for America’s wild grey wolf and those allies that fight passionately for them.” Rachel Tilseth, author at Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin

“Everyone in the world needs in these dark times a dream of hope, a fairy tale that brings light back into the hearts of those who care for wild animals and Nature. We hope to see the film soon in Italy too!” Brunella Pernigotti, author at Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin

This film could not come at a better time. Stories like these serve to remind us of our shared existence which is at once a responsibility and a privilege. No doubt, the Wolf and the Lion will bring some much needed hope to us all! —
Manish N. Bhatt, Esq., author at Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin

WOLF TOTEM depicts the dying culture of the Mongols.

And parallel extinction of the animal they believe to be sacred. A must watch film while you are on a #StayAtHome order.

The following is a review of the film WOLF TOTEM

A New York Times review By Ben KenigsbergIn “Wolf Totem,” the French director Jean-Jacques Annaud, no stranger to animals (“The Bear”) or turbulent Chinese history (“Seven Years in Tibet”), adapts a novel that grew into a controversial phenomenon in China. The book, written by a Beijing professor, Lu Jiamin, under the pseudonym Jiang Rong, was second in circulation only to Mao’s little red book, according to a 2008 review in The New York Times.

The novel was received as a critique of Chinese modernization and environmental policies. The film, a Chinese production, reaches the screen with at least some sensitive material omitted. Characters seem carved from a much larger narrative. The landscape and painstakingly trained wolves are the true stars.

A still from “Wolf Totem.”Columbia Pictures

The story concerns Chen Zhen (Feng Shaofeng), a student who travels from Beijing to Inner Mongolia to teach during the Cultural Revolution. Entranced with the wolves there — whose behavior inspired Genghis Khan, the village leader tells him — Chen Zhen adopts a cub and raises it, sparing it from the orders of his superior, who wants the wolves culled.

In its tale of an outsider acclimating to a vanishing way of life, “Wolf Totem” sometimes recalls another sentimental wolf movie (the one in which Kevin Costner dances with them). But the work with actual animals offers an increasingly rare pleasure. Mr. Annaud makes subtle use of 3-D to highlight the crags and grasslands, aided by a swirling score from James Horner, who died in June.

Wolf Totem Movie Poster

The wolves were trained by Instinct Animals for Film WE ARE A TOP SUPPLIER OF TRAINED ANIMAL TALENT FOR THE FILM AND TELEVISION INDUSTRY. WITH OVER 20 YEARS’ EXPERIENCE, WE UNDERSTAND TIME IS MONEY. WE ALSO UNDERSTAND ANIMAL BEHAVIOR AND THE NUANCED PRESSURES OF FILM MAKING.INSTINCT HELPS YOU BRING THE CAPTIVATING NATURE OF ANIMALS TO THE SCREEN.ABOUT THE INSTINCT EXPERIENCE https://instinctforfilm.com/

A Glimpse of Spring From the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

From filmmaker Maaike Middleton

Nature Moment: Bear with us (Part 1): What’s that…smell?

All bears have a fantastic sense of smell. The area inside a black bear’s nose, called the nasal mucosa, is 100 times greater than ours. This young black bear (Ursus americanus) smelled something’s not right and had to go sniff it out.

Part 2 of this video to come later this week. Stay tuned.

Maybe shorten the fun fact to this length? And then add your usual credit shout-out at the end.

Fun fact:
What does the American black bear eat?
American black bears are omnivorous, consuming a range of grasses, fruits, roots, nuts, mammals, fish, carrion and honey. They are opportunistic eaters, feeding on whatever is available at the time. ( credit @onekindplanet.org)

Nature Moment: This masked bandit is making a run for it. Whether you live in the country or the city, you’ve probably had a run-in with raccoons. They can be found all over.
Fun fact:
Their masks aren’t just for show.
Thanks to the black markings that fall across their eyes, raccoons have been typecast as the conniving thief or trickster figure in stories for centuries. But their famous black masks do more than make them look like adorable outlaws—they also help them see clearly. The black fur works just like the black stickers athletes wear under their eyes: The dark color absorbs incoming light, reducing glare that would otherwise bounce into their eyes and obstruct their vision. At night, when raccoons are most active, less peripheral light makes it easier for them to perceive contrast in the objects of their focus, which is essential for seeing in the dark. ( Credit @mental_floss )

Nature Moment: 🎶On the way home, you don’t ever have to feel alone… 🎶 (On The Way Home, @johnmayer )

Two adult mountain lions showing that they are not solitary animals like many thought.

Fun Fact:
Cougars live in low-densities on the land–a single cougar requires 50 to 100 square miles to breed, raise young, and hunt. Both males and females are highly territorial and maintain and defend their chosen home ranges from other cougars. Females can be tolerant of slight overlaps in their territories with other females. However, males will defend their home ranges against transgressions by other males. (Credit:
https://www.cougarfund.org/education/about-the-cougar/family-life/)

Nature Moment: Lunch anyone? Here’s a great blue heron pondering his next meal at a new fishing spot. With the soothing sound of rushing water and crisp greenery, he definitely has the best table in the house.

Great Blue Herons hunt from shallow water, moving slowly and searching the water under the surface. They will eat whatever they can catch including frogs, snakes, crayfish, fish, small mammals and even other birds. They will snag smaller prey with their strong mandibles or can use their sharp, dagger-like bills to impale larger creatures.

Want to learn more about birds and how you can help protect them. Check out @audubonsociety

Nature Moment: A red fox takes a look around as the birds tell him he’s not a welcomed visitor. (No little prince here, fox!)

If you look closely at his fur coat you can see that he’s shedding his winter jacket for his sleek summer coat.

Fun fact: Like a cat’s, the fox’s thick tail aids its balance, but it has other uses as well. A fox uses its tail (or “brush”) as a warm cover in cold weather and as a signal flag to communicate with other foxes.

Nature moment: a young mountain lion checking out the camera while feeling his distance…….
Mountain lions will cache their kills under bushes and cover them with grass so that birds such as eagles or magpies can’t find their kills. Think of it as a refrigerator for a mountain lion!

About Maaike Middleton

Maaike Middleton is a wildlife filmmaker. She was born in The Netherlands and grew up in Montana. She has traveled the globe filming wildlife from pumas in Patagonia, the illusive Amur tiger in the Russian Far East and grizzlies in her backyard. Maaike is passionate about telling stories that can make a difference and address issues that impact us all. When she is not setting camera traps to capture animal behavior she is watching films and helping with the selection process for the Wildlife Film Festival Rotterdam. She received her MA from University of London- Royal Holloway. BA Montana State University- Bozeman. She has worked on projects for Smithsonian, Nat Geo, Curiosity Stream, BBC Nature, PBS and ARTE.

Maaike Middleton

Maaike Middleton is Co Producer of Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story

Our fiscal sponsor is Film North click here to make a donation. Meet the Advocates inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy-The Yellowstone Story

The Trailer

A film project in the works.

This documentary tells the story of advocates working to preserve the legacy of Yellowstone National Park wolves that face an uncertain future because of legal hunts just beyond the park’s border. A famous wolf, known as 06, was killed in a legal wolf hunt when she left 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. The death of 06 and other collared wolves has ignited a battle to create a buffer zone around Yellowstone National Park to protect it’s wolves because legal trophy hunts take place in Wyoming, Idaho & Montana. The film is set in our nation’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. By 1926, as a result of federal and state predator control efforts, gray wolves (Canis lupus) were officially extirpated from Yellowstone National Park. Northern Rocky Mountain wolves were eventually listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973.

The film’s fiscal sponsor: FilmNorth’s mission is to empower artists to tell their stories, launch and sustain successful careers, and advance The North as a leader in the national network of independent filmmakers. We achieve our mission by nurturing a vibrant, diverse community of film and media artists; providing education and resources at every stage of their careers; and celebrating their achievements.

We wish you and yours a long and full life! Stay Home. Save Lives!

Twenty-five Year Anniversary of Wolf Reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park

Today, in Yellowstone National Park, twenty-five years later; The Montana and Wyoming Legislature dismissed the idea of a buffer zone for wolves that wander outside Yellowstone, instead instating a law prohibiting such buffer zones. The film takes viewers through the controversy surrounding Yellowstone National Park wolves being legally hunted in Wyoming, Montana & Idaho when they wander from the sanctuary of park. The film takes you into the advocates lives, why they advocate, the work they do, and how the advocate’s work will preserve the legacy of Yellowstone Park wolves.

Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story Film Project Our film is in production. Watch the following teaser “Meet the Advocates”

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 the 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 wolf tourism 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 06 wolf of Lamar Valley 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

This documentary tells the story of advocates working to preserve the legacy of Yellowstone National Park wolves that face an uncertain future because of legal wolf hunts just beyond the park’s border. A famous wolf, known as 06, was killed in a legal wolf hunt when she left 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. The death of 06 and other collared wolves has ignited a battle to create a buffer zone around Yellowstone National Park to protect it’s wolves because legal trophy hunts take place in Wyoming, Idaho & Montana.

The film is set in our nation’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. By 1926, as a result of federal and state predator control efforts, gray wolves (Canis lupus) were officially extirpated from Yellowstone National Park. Northern Rocky Mountain wolves were eventually listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973.

Click here to donate to this film project

With ESA listing came the goal of restoring wolves to their historic range, and in 1995 and 1996, following many years of public planning and input, a total of 31 wolves, captured in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, were reintroduced to Yellowstone. Wolves flourished amidst Yellowstone’s abundant prey and expansive, protected wilderness.

The first wolf arrives in Yellowstone at the Crystal Bench Pen (Mike Phillips-YNP Wolf Project Leader, Jim Evanoff-YNP, Molly Beattie- USFWS Director, Mike Finley-YNP Superintendent, Bruce Babbitt-Secretary of Interior) JIM PEACO (CC-BY-2.0)

The Montana and Wyoming Legislature dismissed the idea of a buffer zone for wolves that wander outside Yellowstone, instead instating a law prohibiting such buffer zones. The film takes viewers through the controversy surrounding Yellowstone National Park wolves being legally hunted in Wyoming, Montana & Idaho when they wander from the sanctuary of park. The film takes you into the advocates lives, why they advocate, the work they do, and how the advocate’s work will preserve the legacy of Yellowstone Park wolves.

MEET THE ADVOCATES

Advocate Dr. Nathan Varley, Ph.D. in Ecology from the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Alberta. His research focused on the relationship between wolves and elk after wolf reintroduction. Dr. Varley, a businessman co-owner of Yellowstone Wolf Tracker tours in Gardiner, Montana, has taken scores of hopeful wolf-watchers to see the Lamar Canyon pack, and says that the majority of his company’s $500,000 gross income comes from tourists like these “I estimate that a half-million people saw 754,” he said. “It was one of the million dollar wolves that was taken out of the population.” Quoted from NYT article: Research Animals Lost in Wolf Hunts Near Yellowstone by Nate Schweber 11/28/2012

Advocate Linda Thurston, Co Owner of Yellowstone Wolf Tracker tours in Gardiner, Montana. Thurston began working on the Yellowstone Wolf Project in 1996, during the early years of the wolf reintroduction. She headed up the first denning behavior study on wolves in Yellowstone Park, and received her master’s degree in wildlife biology from Texas A&M while doing so. Thurston and Dr. Varley through their business focus on teaching people about the behavior, ecology and management of wolves in and around Yellowstone Park for the past 14 years. Both Thurston and Dr. Varley are active in wolf conservation issues through Bear Creek Council, a grassroots organization that works to protect wolves and other wildlife just outside the boundary of Yellowstone Park.

The following is Linda Thurston’s dialogue from Meet the Advocates Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy—The Yellowstone Story Film Project: “We’ll watch wolf packs in the park and we get to learn about every individual and their personalities. And the younger ones, the older ones, and the ones you know are the good hunters for instance, and the ones that play the support roles and learn their personalities. Then we’ll watch them for years. Then there’s an elk hunt and a wolf hunt right outside the park. These wolves will leave because it’s a free meal for them to eat a gut pile that an elk hunter left on the landscape. Then that wolf might get shot over it. And it’s heartbreaking for us to see this animal, it’s not like our pet, but we get to learn its personality like as if it was a pet. And it just breaks our heart and makes you wanna speak up and do something about it.”

Advocate Mark Cooke

Advocate Marc Cooke is founder of Wolves of the Rockies (WOTR) who’s mission is; to Protect & Defend Wolves of the Rocky Mountains through advocating and education. WOTR gathers wolf advocates from around the world to consolidate our voices into a force that will influence the protection and acceptance of wolves in the Rocky Mountain Region. Educating people with facts about wolves, and wolf behavior to counter the negative image created by commercial interest groups, fictional entertainment and extremism.

Advocate Ilona Popper

Advocate Ilona Popper has a M.A. English Language and Literature, University of Virginia and has worked for 40 years as an editor, writing coach, and teacher. Ilona has worked intensively on preserving wolves in the YNP area and in Montana. She helped establish and served as chair for the Bear Creek Council Wolf Committee and was invited to sit on Finding Common Ground, a council called by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to bring together wildlife advocates and environmentalists with sportspeople and livestock producers. The participants were often at odds, especially about wolves, but she saw that “each person shared a love of wildlife and nature.”

The film will also introduce the viewer to Yellowstone Wolf Project staff. Douglas W. Smith, senior wildlife biologist for Yellowstone Wolf Project. Kira Cassidy, Kira holds her M.S. degree from the University of Minnesota, with projects focusing on territoriality and aggression between packs of gray wolves. Now working as a Research Associate for the Yellowstone Wolf Project. Rick McIntyre has served as a seasonal park ranger at such sites as Yellowstone, Denali, Glacier, and Big Bend national parks. His books include War Against the Wolf: America’s Campaign to Exterminate the Wolf (Voyageur Press) and Grizzly Cub: Five Years in the Life of a Bear. Watch a Yellowstone National Park video of Kira Cassidy watching the alpha female wolf 926F as she chases an elk click the link: https://youtu.be/n_LkLFt3uYc Click here to donate to this film project Poster design by Any Reich

Producers Maaike Middleton and Rachel Tilseth Director Rachel Tilseth A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film, LLC

Inside of the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story Producer Maaike Middleton is a wildlife filmmaker. She was born in The Netherlands and grew up in Montana. She has traveled the globe filming wildlife from pumas in Patagonia, the illusive Amur tiger in the Russian Far East and grizzlies in her backyard. Maaike is passionate about telling stories that can make a difference and address issues that impact us all. When she is not setting camera traps to capture animal behavior she is watching films and helping with the selection process for the Wildlife Film Festival Rotterdam. She received her MA from University of London- Royal Holloway BA Montana State University- Bozeman. She has worked on projects for Smithsonian, Nat Geo, Curiosity Stream, BBC Nature, PBS and ARTE. Producer and Director

Filmmaker Rachel Tilseth Tracking Wisconsin’s Gray wolf in 2017.

Rachel Tilseth is a fine artist, educator, environmentalist, wolf advocate and filmmaker. Rachel lives and works in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Rachel earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education in 1992 from UW-Stout, graduating with cum laude honors.

Rachel has been an environmentalist since high school. Rachel participated in the first Earth Day in 1971. Later, Rachel participated in the protests of sulfate mines that took place in the early 1990s. Rachel worked with activists John Trudell and Walter Bresette, whom she met at the Protect The Earth Festival near Hayward, Wisconsin. Rachel’s first art teaching job was in Kyle, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1992.

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 Rachel became involved in Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program. Rachel officially 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. In 1999, Rachel put together a story proposal about Adrian Wydeven’s volunteer Winter Wolf Tracking Program, and submitted it to National Geographic Television Channel. Although the proposal wasn’t accepted Rachel received a telephone call from them to explain why. The National Geographic Channel at the time was busy working on starting a global network and all of their resources were tied up in working to get it off the ground. The National Geographic Channel advised Rachel to resubmit the proposal in a year. Rachel continued working to draw attention to Wisconsin’s Gray wolf and wrote to Dr. Jane Goodall in Tanzania, Africa about the recovery program. Rachel received three handwritten postcards from Dr. Jane Goodall. In 2011 Great Lakes wolves were delisted. Rachel worked to draw attention to the plight of Gray wolves during the three years Wisconsin held wolf hunts.

Rachel garnered the attention of the press in an effort to bring public awareness to Wisconsin’s wolf hunt, especially the regulations that allowed dogs to be used to track and trail wolves. Rachel made it known that Wisconsin quite literally throws dogs to wolves. Rachel has put together public events, three film screenings, one film festival, in order to bring education and awareness about Wisconsin’s wolf hunt, and wildlife issues. In 2011 Rachel started a Facebook Page and named it after the county she tracked wolves in; Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin (WODCW). WODCW became known nationally and internationally. In 2018 Rachel began working on a film series titled Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy. Rachel’s film series tells the stories of advocates/people working to preserve the legacy of wild gray wolves. The first series is about Yellowstone Wolves, “The Yellowstone Story” and Rachel is the Producer and Director. Rachel formed a film company in 2019 Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films, LLC.

  • Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Presents A Film
  • Produced by Maaike Middleton Rachel Tilseth
  • Song “Don’t Know Why, But They Do” Words & Music by Joe De Benedetti Noah Hill
  • Edited by Maaike Middleton
  • Cinematography by Maaike Middleton
  • Directed by Rachel Tilseth
  • B Roll National Park Service
  • Graphic Design Andy Reich
  • Advocates Ilona Popper Nathan Varley Linda Thurston Marc Cooke

A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film, LLC Click here to donate to this film project

Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy—The Yellowstone Story Advocates Linda Thurston & Nathan Varley business owners at http://www.wolftracker.com We advocate emphatically for the wildlife upon which our business depends. Unlike a lot of businesses in our industry that stay quiet and sit on their hands, we show up to speak out on controversial wildlife issues. We are not afraid to stick up for wolves, bison, and bears when they need a voice. As leaders in Bear Creek Council, an all-volunteer, local grassroots group, we dedicate our effort to wise stewardship in our area. We fight mine proposals that threaten Yellowstone’s habitat and water quality. We fight trophy hunters that want to shoot wolves and grizzly bears along park borders. We fight for the next generation and their right to experience the same wild Yellowstone we know and love.

The Yellowstone Story Film Project

Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story

The following is Linda Thurston’s dialogue from Meet the Advocates Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy—The Yellowstone Story Film Project Pitch Trailer

“We’ll watch wolf packs in the park and we get to learn about every individual and their personalities. And the younger ones, the older ones, and the ones you know are the good hunters for instance, and the ones that play the support roles and learn their personalities. Then we’ll watch them for years. Then there’s an elk hunt and a wolf hunt right outside the park. These wolves will leave because it’s a free meal for them to eat a gut pile that an elk hunter left on the landscape. Then that wolf might get shot over it. And it’s heartbreaking for us to see this animal, it’s not like our pet, but we get to learn its personality like as if it was a pet. And it just breaks our heart and makes you wanna speak up and do something about it.”

Watch the Pitch Trailer

Director Statement by Rachel Tilseth “The Vision”

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 the 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 wolf tourism 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 06 wolf of Lamar Valley 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 “The Story”

This documentary tells the story of advocates working to preserve the legacy of Yellowstone National Park wolves that face an uncertain future because of legal wolf hunts just beyond the park’s border. A famous wolf, known as 06, was killed in a legal wolf hunt when she left 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. The death of 06 and other collared wolves has ignited a battle to create a buffer zone around Yellowstone National Park to protect it’s wolves because legal trophy hunts take place in Wyoming, Idaho & Montana. The film is set in our nation’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. By 1926, as a result of federal and state predator control efforts, gray wolves (Canis lupus) were officially extirpated from Yellowstone National Park. Northern Rocky Mountain wolves were eventually listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973.

With ESA listing came the goal of restoring wolves to their historic range, and in 1995 and 1996, following many years of public planning and input, a total of 31 wolves, captured in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, were reintroduced to Yellowstone. Wolves flourished amidst Yellowstone’s abundant prey and expansive, protected wilderness.

The first wolf arrives in Yellowstone at the Crystal Bench Pen (Mike Phillips-YNP Wolf Project Leader, Jim Evanoff-YNP, Molly Beattie- USFWS Director, Mike Finley-YNP Superintendent, Bruce Babbitt-Secretary of Interior) JIM PEACO (CC-BY-2.0)

The Montana and Wyoming Legislature dismissed the idea of a buffer zone for wolves that wander outside Yellowstone, instead instating a law prohibiting such buffer zones. The film takes viewers through the controversy surrounding Yellowstone National Park wolves being legally hunted in Wyoming, Montana & Idaho when they wander from the sanctuary of park. The film takes you into the advocates lives, why they advocate, the work they do, and how the advocate’s work will preserve the legacy of Yellowstone Park wolves.

MEET THE ADVOCATES

Advocate Dr. Nathan Varley, Ph.D. in Ecology from the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Alberta. His research focused on the relationship between wolves and elk after wolf reintroduction. Dr. Varley, a businessman co-owner of Yellowstone Wolf Tracker tours in Gardiner, Montana, has taken scores of hopeful wolf-watchers to see the Lamar Canyon pack, and says that the majority of his company’s $500,000 gross income comes from tourists like these “I estimate that a half-million people saw 754,” he said. “It was one of the million dollar wolves that was taken out of the population.” Quoted from NYT article: Research Animals Lost in Wolf Hunts Near Yellowstone by Nate Schweber 11/28/2012

Advocate Linda Thurston, Co Owner of Yellowstone Wolf Tracker tours in Gardiner, Montana. Thurston began working on the Yellowstone Wolf Project in 1996, during the early years of the wolf reintroduction. She headed up the first denning behavior study on wolves in Yellowstone Park, and received her master’s degree in wildlife biology from Texas A&M while doing so. Thurston and Dr. Varley through their business focus on teaching people about the behavior, ecology and management of wolves in and around Yellowstone Park for the past 14 years. Both Thurston and Dr. Varley are active in wolf conservation issues through Bear Creek Council, a grassroots organization that works to protect wolves and other wildlife just outside the boundary of Yellowstone Park.

Advocate Mark Cooke

Advocate Marc Cooke is founder of Wolves of the Rockies (WOTR) who’s mission is; to Protect & Defend Wolves of the Rocky Mountains through advocating and education. WOTR gathers wolf advocates from around the world to consolidate our voices into a force that will influence the protection and acceptance of wolves in the Rocky Mountain Region. Educating people with facts about wolves, and wolf behavior to counter the negative image created by commercial interest groups, fictional entertainment and extremism.

Advocate Ilona Popper

Advocate Ilona Popper has a M.A. English Language and Literature, University of Virginia and has worked for 40 years as an editor, writing coach, and teacher. Ilona has worked intensively on preserving wolves in the YNP area and in Montana. She helped establish and served as chair for the Bear Creek Council Wolf Committee and was invited to sit on Finding Common Ground, a council called by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to bring together wildlife advocates and environmentalists with sportspeople and livestock producers. The participants were often at odds, especially about wolves, but she saw that “each person shared a love of wildlife and nature.”

The film will also introduce the viewer to Yellowstone Wolf Project staff. Douglas W. Smith, senior wildlife biologist for Yellowstone Wolf Project. Kira Cassidy, Kira holds her M.S. degree from the University of Minnesota, with projects focusing on territoriality and aggression between packs of gray wolves. Now working as a Research Associate for the Yellowstone Wolf Project. Rick McIntyre has served as a seasonal park ranger at such sites as Yellowstone, Denali, Glacier, and Big Bend national parks. His books include War Against the Wolf: America’s Campaign to Exterminate the Wolf (Voyageur Press) and Grizzly Cub: Five Years in the Life of a Bear.

Watch a Yellowstone National Park video of Yellowstone Wolf Project Researcher Kira Cassidy as she watches the alpha female wolf 926F chasing an elk.

Poster design by Any Reich

Producers Maaike Middleton and Rachel Tilseth

Director Rachel Tilseth

A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film, LLC

Visit Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story’s Facebook Page Here for all Updates

Inside of the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story

Producer

Maaike Middleton is a wildlife filmmaker. She was born in The Netherlands and grew up in Montana. She has traveled the globe filming wildlife from pumas in Patagonia, the illusive Amur tiger in the Russian Far East and grizzlies in her backyard. Maaike is passionate about telling stories that can make a difference and address issues that impact us all. When she is not setting camera traps to capture animal behavior she is watching films and helping with the selection process for the Wildlife Film Festival Rotterdam. She received her MA from University of London- Royal Holloway BA Montana State University- Bozeman. She has worked on projects for Smithsonian, Nat Geo, Curiosity Stream, BBC Nature, PBS and ARTE.

Producer and Director

Filmmaker Rachel Tilseth Tracking Wisconsin’s Gray wolf in 2017.

Rachel Tilseth is a fine artist, educator, environmentalist, wolf advocate and filmmaker. Rachel lives and works in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Rachel earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education in 1992 from UW-Stout, graduating with cum laude honors. Rachel has been an environmentalist since high school. Rachel participated in the first Earth Day in 1971. Later, Rachel participated in the protests of sulfate mines that took place in the early 1990s. Rachel worked with activists John Trudell and Walter Bresette, whom she met at the Protect The Earth Festival near Hayward, Wisconsin. Rachel’s first art teaching job was in Kyle, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1992.

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 Rachel became involved in Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program. Rachel officially 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. In 1999, Rachel put together a story proposal about Adrian Wydeven’s volunteer Winter Wolf Tracking Program, and submitted it to National Geographic Television Channel. Although the proposal wasn’t accepted Rachel received a telephone call from them to explain why. The National Geographic Channel at the time was busy working on starting a global network and all of their resources were tied up in working to get it off the ground. The National Geographic Channel advised Rachel to resubmit the proposal in a year. Rachel continued working to draw attention to Wisconsin’s Gray wolf and wrote to Dr. Jane Goodall in Tanzania, Africa about the recovery program. Rachel received three handwritten postcards from Dr. Jane Goodall.

In 2011 Great Lakes wolves were delisted. Rachel worked to draw attention to the plight of Gray wolves during the three years Wisconsin held wolf hunts. Rachel garnered the attention of the press in an effort to bring public awareness to Wisconsin’s wolf hunt, especially the regulations that allowed dogs to be used to track and trail wolves. Rachel made it known that Wisconsin quite literally throws dogs to wolves. Rachel has put together public events, three film screenings, one film festival, in order to bring education and awareness about Wisconsin’s wolf hunt, and wildlife issues. In 2011 Rachel started a Facebook Page and named it after the county she tracked wolves in; Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin (WODCW). WODCW became known nationally and internationally. In 2018 Rachel began working on a film series titled Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy. Rachel’s film series tells the stories of advocates/people working to preserve the legacy of wild gray wolves. The first series is about Yellowstone Wolves, “The Yellowstone Story” and Rachel is the Producer and Director. Rachel formed a film company in 2019 Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films, LLC.

The Trailer

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Presents

A Film Produced by Maaike Middleton Rachel Tilseth

Song “Don’t Know Why, But They Do”

Words & Music by Joe De Benedetti Noah Hill

Edited by Maaike Middleton

Cinematography by Maaike Middleton

Directed by Rachel Tilseth

B Roll National Park Service

Graphic Design Andy Reich

Advocates Ilona Popper

Nathan Varley

Linda Thurston

Marc Cooke

Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy—The Yellowstone Story Advocates Linda Thurston & Nathan Varley business owners at http://www.wolftracker.com We advocate emphatically for the wildlife upon which our business depends. Unlike a lot of businesses in our industry that stay quiet and sit on their hands, we show up to speak out on controversial wildlife issues. We are not afraid to stick up for wolves, bison, and bears when they need a voice. As leaders in Bear Creek Council, an all-volunteer, local grassroots group, we dedicate our effort to wise stewardship in our area. We fight mine proposals that threaten Yellowstone’s habitat and water quality. We fight trophy hunters that want to shoot wolves and grizzly bears along park borders. We fight for the next generation and their right to experience the same wild Yellowstone we know and love.

A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film, LLC

WODCW is a Film Company producing film projects that inspire change through environmental education and legislation. Gray wolves are recovering on a worldwide landscape, our films, involve a global audience. We connect and engage viewers with filmmakers dedicated to documenting the conscious relationships between advocates and Gray wolves.

We view the need for people to meaningfully engage with its wild wolves that are now struggling for survival worldwide.

To support this effort, we maintain a network of subject matter experts in film producers, scientists, academics, as well as other advocates who share a common interest to advocate, produce and share educational stories of people and Gray wolves.

Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy —Yellowstone Story Film Project…

The following is Linda Thurston’s dialogue from Meet the Advocates Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy—The Yellowstone Story Film Project:

“We’ll watch wolf packs in the park and we get to learn about every individual and their personalities. And the younger ones, the older ones, and the ones you know are the good hunters for instance, and the ones that play the support roles and learn their personalities. Then we’ll watch them for years. Then there’s an elk hunt and a wolf hunt right outside the park. These wolves will leave because it’s a free meal for them to eat a gut pile that an elk hunter left on the landscape. Then, that wolf might get shot over it. And it’s heartbreaking for us to see this animal, it’s not like our pet, but we get to learn its personality like as if it was a pet. And it just breaks our heart and makes you wanna speak up and do something about it.”

 

To learn more about Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story Film Project click here.

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films, LLC http://www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com

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.

Women & Advocacy…

Julia Huffman is the producer and director of the award winning documentaries Medicine of the Wolf and Wolf Spirit. This interview is from July 2016.

Julia can you tell the readers where you grew up?
I grew up in Southern West Virginia with a few years living in “Philly”, Philadelphia.

 Can you tell us about a childhood memory that helped create who you’ve become now?

My parents “dropped out” of living in the city, when I was very young and joined a “back to the land movement.”  They really re created themselves and didn’t follow the norm of mainstream society. This influenced me deeply. I developed a close connection to the land and to animals growing up in the hills and hollers of WVA. Nature is my base. I am interested in finding new ways to do and say things in this life time and my parents really taught me by their example to be true to that inner voice.

 Can you tell us about a person in your life that inspired you?

Jane Fonda. Beautiful spirit inside and out. An incredible activist and honest. I think we dismiss honesty at times In our culture, but she always struck me as someone who doesn’t apologize for who she is, but can admit openly she made a mistake. We all do. But the humility it takes to be out In the public eye and work on the many environmental issues she has over the years and then also say, “I missed the mark there”, to me, takes incredible courage.

People don’t realize how many years this woman has been using her voice, money and celebrity to speak out for women, human rights, Indigenous rights, and environment… It goes on and on. And lastly she is actually a bit shy by nature, but does it anyway, because she believes in it, I relate to this!

 Can you tell us a little about your post high school studies and why you chose them?

 I got a degree in broadcast journalism, at Bethany College in West Virginia.  I wanted to be a news reporter at one time.

 Can you tell us about a person that helped develop your creative artistic side?

 So many. At a point in my life, I learned, finally, to ask for help and I have been blessed to have found several amazing mentors over the years.

One of my latest is actress Sheryl Lee. She really liked the film and we found each other through a mutual friend. I always thought her work was very cerebral and magnetic and so we had this mutual admiration, which is a good starting place. She is incredibly generous with her talent and time. She is a teacher by nature. She has shared gems of wisdom with me and supported and inspired me to be true to my creative and ever evolving intuition.

 You chose wolves as the subject of your award winning documentary Medicine of the Wolf. Can you tell us what led you to that choice?

 I have always loved wolves. My connection to them, like many, is through my first dog Bozo, he was my soul mate. You’ve heard the term, “the wolf is in your living room? Well Bozo was my “wolf.”

My film was really this amazing opportunity for me to learn more about the dog’s wild cousin, the wolf, right along with the viewer, I really went on that journey.

Medicine of the Wolf Trailer

As a director can you tell us what was the most challenging segment to film in Medicine of the Wolf?

 All of it…ha ha. I call myself, “Me myself and I Productions”..

I say that with a smile, there are S0 many people who donated time energy, money love…into making it! And it certainly IS a WE film. But I bit off a huge chunk in wearing most of the hats. And I am grateful; it’s the doing that makes us learn.

 But maybe the pain was the hardest. The wolf hunt was happening when we were making it and I felt like the whole time I was sprinting (and I was) I had this crazy notion that I needed to save them…And I, we, do. And it took a toll.

 As a director can you tell us what was the most rewarding segment to film in Medicine of the a Wolf?

 I loved ALL of it truly. But being with Jim and my amazing crew up in Wolf country, in Ravenwood for several shoots was MAGICAL, it gets under your skin, the beauty and rawness of that country. And all that Jim shared and gave and revealed in the film was the biggest gift and life changing experience, I truly cherish and admire Jim so very much, he is one of my teachers.

 Can you tell us how has the making of the film Medicine of the Wolf touched you spiritually?

…..It changed me. I am fairly quiet about this, as I believe now that some of what we experience in life is sacred.

Chi Ma’’iingan, Larry Stillday who is in the film and has since passed, shared with me, that the Medicine of the Wolf is love, this I know now on a core level.

 Can you tell us how the overall production of Medicine of the Wolf enhanced your professional career?

New opportunities.

Well. I was invited to do a TEDx talk in Fargo, My talk is on the Healing power of Wolves, so that is a big honor..I have traveled all over now with the film, many seem to really like it. Maybe I am recognized more now as a director. I think as women, there are still a very low percentage of us getting our projects seen and so I am honored to help carry that torch for us.

 Now let’s talk wolves. Can you tell us why you think the topic of wolves drives such fear and hate in some people?

I think that the wolf issue in many ways represents a mirror into our own selves; meaning they remind us of our capacity to love deeply and hate deeply.

And just like the political battles and the bashing you see around us now, many humans seem to need to vilify something.

The wolf in my mind in certain circles has become a scapegoat of misplaced anger and resentment.

 Can you tell us what about the wolf inspires you? Why do you champion him?

The wolf has given so much, just by being. The film was a thank you for all that they have done for the planet and for us humans.

You’ve chosen the topic of Celebrating the wolf for your Ted Talk; can you tell us why you chose that topic?

We have been so programmed to believe that wolves are bad and evil, its everywhere in the news…ISIS attackers are labeled ”Lone wolves” The Wolf of Wallstreet…etc etc etc.

And anti wolf groups continue to spread propaganda about wolves that is incredibly destructive.

So my intention is to speak only of the wolf in the positive and celebratory way that they rightly deserve. I believe that words and ideas…can change hearts and minds. We’ll see! J

Julia’s Ted Talk

Final question. Can you tell us what’s next for you? 

Rest. Maybe a dramatic feature film…

You can meet Julia Huffman on Saturday August 24th, The Center Theatre for more information go to the Facebook event page by clicking here.

Wolf Spirit Trailer

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