Gray Wolves…

With their piercing looks and spine-tingling howls, wolves inspire both adoration and controversy around the world. Find out how many wolf species exist, the characteristics that make each wolf’s howl unique, and how the wolf population in the continental United States nearly became extinct. Find out more at National Geographic

Short video from National Geographic


Read more about Gray Wolves at


Tracking the Pack: You might never actually see a gray wolf, but the sign they leave behind makes up for it!

Gray wolves are shy and elusive creatures living in Wisconsin’s northern & central forests. Today there are around 978 gray wolves in Wisconsin according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 2018-2019 wolf count. I’ve been a part of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) winter wolf tracking program for 20 years now. One thing I’ve learned is that you may never actually catch sight of a gray wolf while conducting a tracking survey, but signs they leave behind will definitely make up for it. The following is one such story of the life of a gray wolf pack I observed while conducting a winter wolf tracking survey in northern Wisconsin.

In 2006 in late January while conducting a winter wolf track survey I ran across sign that indicated the alpha female was in estrus. On a snow covered road I found sign of the alpha pair’s scent marking every 10th of a mile down the road. I observed that whole wolf pack were leaving sign, from subordinate individuals, to the alpha pair. Subordinate individuals leave squat urination signs, and the alpha pair leave raised leg urination. Typically only the alpha male and female make the raised led urination signs. The alpha male also leaves raised leg urination sign along with scat markings indicating this is his territory and he intends to guard it! These markings were made at the edge of their range, and wolves are very territorial at this time of the year.

I continued tracking, observing and documenting all the sign along the snow covered road full of wolf tracks. A mile or so down the road I found the evidence I was hoping to find; a snow covered pine tree sapling with rusty-red colored urine on top of it. The rusty-red colored urine was the tell tale sign that the alpha female was in estrus.

You might never actually see a gray wolf, but the signs they leave behind makes up for it! And this was a winter wolf tracker’s dream come true.

Photograph credit John E Marriott

A Film Explores the thoughtful “Can Do” Approach Solving Serious Problems

“Living with Carnivores: Boneyards, Bears and Wolves” is a documentary film about living with large carnivores. The story begins a decade ago in western Montana’s Blackfoot River Valley and explores how a rural agricultural community responded to the resurgence of grizzly bears and wolves. The film explores the thoughtful “can do” approach of Montana ranchers who realized that the age old practice of dumping dead livestock onto “boneyards” was destined to spell trouble by attracting grizzly bears and wolves onto ranches resulting in poor outcomes for wildlife and ranchers.

At its core, this film attempts to illustrate that it is possible to transcend ideological divides and to solve serious problems in a polarized world.

Produced by Alpenglow Press Productions and Seth Wilson. Filmed and edited by Jason D.B. Kauffman, Alpenglow Press Productions. Narration by Craig Johnson

The Blackfoot Challenge

In the early 2000’s, ranchers and other partners of the Blackfoot Challenge (a community based conservation effort in Montana’s Blackfoot River watershed) developed a deadstock removal program. “Living with Large Carnivores: Boneyards, Bears and Wolves” is a newly released film that shares the journey of the folks of the Blackfoot Challenge as they work to find solutions for reducing conflict with carnivores on the agricultural landscape.
While the film demonstrates the work being done in one area of Montana, it also proposes the idea that by working together, from a grassroots level, we can learn to reduce the risk of living with large carnivores on our farms and ranches. The Blackfoot Challenge has provided a model for carnivore conflict reduction that can successfully be implemented in any part of the world.

Photo image credit PBS

Stories of People & Wolves…

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films (WODCW) is working in Yellowstone National Park, Wisconsin, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands and Germany to bring you stories of the advocates that are working to preserve the legacy of wild Gray wolves.

Click the menus on this website to learn about The Yellowstone Story, The Wisconsin Story and the Italian Story.

About Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films

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.

Take Action to Protect Endangered Gray Wolves in the Lower 48 states.

The latest threat to the recovery of Gray wolves is S.3140 – A bill to require the Secretary of the Interior to issue a final rule relating to the delisting of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

This latest threat to gray wolves is sponsored by Sen. Lee, Mike [R-UT] introduced on 12/19/2019 and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. To find out more about Senate Committee members click on the following: Committee on Environment and Public Works. Please contact your Senators. You will find more information on how to contact them. Read on!

Latest Actions

Committees: Senate – Environment and Public Works
Latest Action: Senate – 12/19/2019 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Gray Wolves Protected Under the Endangered Species Act

In the Lower 48, gray wolves have been listed under federal endangered species laws since the 1960s, when they had been extirpated, except for small populations in Michigan and Minnesota. Now, wolf populations in the Great Lakes area have grown to about 4,500 individuals. Wisconsin Alone now has 974 wolves. The Northern Rockies population includes more than 1,500 wolves across Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, Utah and California, thanks to natural migration from Canada and reintroductions in Yellowstone National Park.

But the recovery of Gray wolves has been, and still is being jeopardized by reckless state sanctioned trophy hunting.

The status of gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act has been contentious for years. In 2011, the USFWS removed gray wolves in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin from the endangered species list.

What happened when wolves lost their endangered species listing in these states?

Minnesota and Wisconsin held state sanctioned wolf hunts. Thankfully, the decision was challenged in court and reversed in 2014. Wolves were ordered back on to the ESA. An appeals court upheld that ruling in 2017.

Shortly after being delisted in Wisconsin gray wolves were allowed to be hunted with the use of dogs in 2013 & 2014 in state sanctioned wolf hunts.

The barbaric act of wolf hounding

The state of Wisconsin allows the use of dogs to hunt wolves when they are not protected under the Endangered Species Act. Wisconsin quite literally throws dogs to wolves.

In 2012, the Service removed gray wolves in Wyoming from the list, in a decision that was challenged in court but ultimately upheld. Congress removed wolves in the Northern Rockies from ESA protections through a rider attached to budget legislation in 2011. Currently, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana hold wolf hunting seasons.

Action Alert

Keep gray wolves in the Lower 48 states protected under the Endangered Species Act by contacting your senators.

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. Click Here to find your Senator Alternatively, you may phone the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to your Senator.

Contacting the Senate

Click here to find your Senator’s contact information by state
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 websites. 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

The senate bill has been referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Senate Committee members click on the following: Committee on Environment and Public Works.

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

Take Action to protect America’s Gray wolf!

The Endangered Species Act protects the endangered species, and the habitat it depends upon.

Extractive industries, such as; oil & gas, mining, lumbering, and real-estate developers want free & easy access to wilderness areas, but gray wolves stand in their way. Don’t let these greedy extractive industries destroy decades of wolf recovery. Take Action!

Incontriamo Antonio Iannibelli (Lingua Italiana)

By Brunella Pernigotti

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films, LLC ha diversi progetti cinematografici in cantiere. Al momento stiamo sviluppando quello relativo alla storia di chi si occupa di studiare e difendere il lupo in Italia. Brunella Pernigotti sta lavorando per raccogliere dati e informazioni circa il prezioso lupo italico (Canis Lupus Italicus) e gli studiosi che sono impegnati nella sua difesa. Uno di questi è Antonio Iannibelli, un fotografo naturalista, wolf-blogger e scrittore che ha fondato e che cura il sito  E’ cresciuto con i suoi nonni, pastori e contadini, nella grande “casa” del Bosco Magnano nel cuore del Pollino in Basilicata. Da anni è impegnato a far conoscere e divulgare informazioni serie ed approfondite sul lupo selvatico italiano. E’ l’ideatore della Festa del lupo che ha luogo ogni due anni e che raduna appassionati e ricercatori da tutta Italia.

Antonio farà parte del team che produrrà il film sulla Storia Italiana: The Italian Story of Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy.


ritratto antonio iannibelli

Antonio Iannibelli

Canis Lupus Italicus

Canis lupus italicus

La popolazione del lupo italiano è una sottospecie unica al mondo: il Canis lupus italicus, come aveva già proposto il grande naturalista italiano Altobello nel 1921. A riprova di ciò, nello studio pubblicato nel 2017 un team di ricercatori provenienti da nove paesi europei hanno studiato, a partire dalle origini, l’unicità del lupo italiano, scoprendo che si distingue da tutti gli altri in Europa e nel mondo, sia a livello di cromosomi autosomici, cioè della maggior parte del DNA di un individuo, che a livello mitocondriale cioè del DNA ereditato per via materna. Così spiega Romolo Caniglia, genetista e coordinatore dello studio: “Utilizzando metodi che consentono di datare quando è avvenuta la separazione del lupo italiano dalle altre popolazioni europee, ci ha sorpreso scoprire che questa unicità non risale ai secoli scorsi, quando il lupo è stato sterminato per mano dell’uomo da tutta l’Europa centrale. I risultati ci indicano invece che Canis lupus italicus ha iniziato a distinguersi già dal termine dell’ultima glaciazione, quando le popolazioni di lupo allora esistenti in Europa erano state spinte verso sud dai ghiacci, mentre nuovi lupi provenienti dall’Asia iniziavano a giungere da est”. Una sottospecie la cui diversità ha radici antiche e che quindi andrebbe tutelata.
A ciò Marco Galaverni, responsabile specie e habitat del WWF Italia e uno dei ricercatori che hanno partecipato allo studio, aggiunge che “mentre la popolazione sembrava essere finalmente in ripresa dal minimo storico di appena un centinaio di lupi sopravvissuti negli anni ’70, raggiungendo circa 1600 esemplari che faticosamente hanno recuperato parte dell’areale originario nella penisola e sulle Alpi, una nuova ondata di bracconaggio sta mietendo centinaia di vittime l’anno, con armi da fuoco e bocconi avvelenati. C’è bisogno di monitoraggi adeguati che consentano di avere informazioni costanti sulla specie”.

In Italia, dunque, abbiamo una particolare e rara sottospecie di lupo che rappresenta un patrimonio di biodiversità genetica da difendere e da proteggere. A questo appello molti sono gli studiosi delle varie discipline che stanno rispondendo, spendendosi in un lavoro faticoso e di difficile monitoraggio e tutela.

E’ importante far conoscere il lavoro di queste persone e diffondere la cultura dell’accettazione e della convivenza tra uomini e lupi, per raggiungere risultati positivi che non siano dettati da antichi pregiudizi ed emotività bensì da un approccio oggettivo e scientifico. L’attività di divulgazione e di educazione è quindi tanto importante quanto quella dello studio e della ricerca. Perciò si possono annoverare tra i migliori sostenitori non solo biologi e ricercatori, ma anche fotografi naturalisti e guardia-parco, divulgatori e insegnanti. Dopo secoli di persecuzione e di caccia al lupo, nella nostra epoca non è più accettabile un rapporto di competitività, al contrario è nostro dovere studiare per trovare soluzioni compatibili che ci permettano di preservare la ricchezza delle creature selvagge che popolano il nostro paese e la Terra intera.

Photo by Brunella Pernigotti – Italian Alps

The Italian Story of Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy Film Project Underway…

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films, LLC has several film projects in the works. We are developing the Italian Story. Brunella Pernigotti is working on the story about the rare Italian wolf and the Advocates working to preserve their legacy. To learn more click on the Linqua Italiana tab on WODCW’s Home Page.

Photograph credit by Antonio Iannibelli

About Brunella Pernigotti

I love wolves and nature in general. Even if I’m not a biologist, I’m improving my knowledge of wolves and their problems to survive in my country, to devote myself to the protection of the environment and of the endangered species as far as I can do.

Brunella Pernigotti Italian Story Film Producer

I live in Turin, Italy. I’m a teacher, a writer and a photographer. I published a novel and a book of tales and have to my credit about ten one-man exhibitions of photos. I’m a member of the board of a no-profit association of Turin, “Tribù del Badnightcafè”, that organizes cultural and artistic events. Besides I created a group of volunteers to help women who are victim of domestic violence.

About Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films, 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.

Watch our Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy—The Yellowstone Story Film Project Trailer

200,000+ signatures submitted in favor of wolf reintroduction in Colorado

Restore the Howl!

Backers of a proposal to reintroduce gray wolves to western Colorado turned in 211,000 signatures for a measure that would put the measure on the ballot.

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund said in a Tuesday news conference that the measure has ‘widespread bipartisan support,” claiming two-thirds of the state supports wolf reintroduction. “This marries wildlife, conservation and direct democracy,” said Rob Edwards, the head of the group.

Its the first ballot measure seeking the reintroduction of an endangered species, he said.

The initiative directs Colorado Parks and Wildlife “to develop, after public input, a science-based plan for reintroducing wolves to Western Colorado by 2023.”

Gray wolves, an endangered species, haven’t found a home in Colorado since the 1940s, according to Joanna Lambert, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Should voters approve the measure, Colorado would be the last state to restore the species to its public lands, she said. This would bring back a “true American species,” Lambert said, and in a way that is “respectful to the needs and concerns of all Coloradans.” Read more at Outdoor Colorado

Photo Credit: Antagain (iStock).

What you need to know about a ballot effort to bring wolves back to Colorado

Should voters make this call of the wild?

By Alesandra Tejeda The Cololrado Independent

Over the next month, an army of volunteers will continue fanning across the state making sure they’ve gathered enough signatures to put a much-debated question on the November 2020 ballot: Should voters reintroduce gray wolves onto public lands in western Colorado where they once roamed but haven’t since the 1940s?

If volunteers successfully gather the necessary 124,632 signatures by Dec. 13, you could get a shot at deciding whether Colorado gets its wolves back along with whether to re-elect President Donald Trump or send a new U.S. senator to Washington. A group backing Initiative 107 says it already has enough signatures, but is gathering more just to be safe.

If the question makes the ballot, it will be the first time voters anywhere in the nation will decide whether to reintroduce gray wolves.

Photo credit NPS

What would the proposed ballot measure do?

If it passes, the new law starts a series of steps that would end with some eventual number of wolves being introduced onto public lands in the western part of the state. The ballot language also provides compensation for those who lose their livestock to wolves.

Initiative 107 would direct the Parks and Wildlife Commission to develop a plan to introduce wolves here “using the best scientific data available” and also to hold public hearings to gather “scientific, economic, and social considerations.”

The commission would have to figure out the details — how many wolves exactly, where they would come from, how they’d be managed, what the compensation program would look like — based on these hearings and testimony. The commission also would have to develop methodologies for determining when the gray wolf population is sustaining itself and “when to remove the gray wolf from the list of endangered or threatened species” as provided by state law.

The plan would be to start reintroducing wolves to Colorado by 2023.

To read the full article click here.

Learn more about the plan at The Rocky Mountain Wolf Project Click here.

Wolves support each other in times of danger: Triangle saves his sister

The following account is from Kira Cassidy a research associate with the Yellowstone Wolf Project.

We called him Triangle, for the shape of the white blaze on his chest. Born into the last litter of the Druid Peak pack—he was smaller than his brothers, and even one of his sisters. One cold morning in 2009 he and an older sister encountered three members of the Hoodoo pack, deep in Druid territory. His sister was immediately attacked but instead of running to safety, Triangle jumped into the melee twice, bit one of the Hoodoo wolves and distracted the opposition long enough for his sister to escape. As he turned to run he was bitten hard on a back leg but outdistanced the attackers, finally out of harm’s way.

Why would he take such a risk? In Yellowstone 68% of natural death occurs when two packs fight. And of the 34 attacks we witnessed and analyzed, in six cases a wolf attempted to rescue their pack mate. So why didn’t Triangle run for safety, saving himself? It may be because the pack, the family, is a crucial part of a wolf’s life.

Yellowstone wolf photo credit NPS

Wolves are rarely alone. They are born in a litter and with pack mates while they hunt, travel, and sleep. If a wolf does leave its pack it is usually to start their own, have their own offspring, and once again, be surrounded by family. It is beneficial to live in a big family, too. It helps every member of the group survive longer, recover from injuries and infections more easily, raise more pups, and hunt larger prey. Wolf packs are also territorial and aggressive with their neighbors; and big packs—especially ones with adult males for fighting power and older adults for their knowledge—are more likely to defeat their opponents.

Risking death or injury to aid a pack mate during an attack may have important evolutionary benefits. This behavior fits with the kin selection theory because helping close relatives promotes your shared genes. Or the pack mate you saved may reciprocate and help you in the future.

As scientists and naturalists fascinated by this behavior, maybe we shouldn’t be that shocked. The news is inundated by stories of a dog saving its family from a burning building, or a person saving a neighbor stuck in a raging river or even a wild animal entangled in a fence. Instead of seeing these acts of selflessness as a human anomaly, maybe we should start viewing them as the bridge that connects us to other animals. Animals like the gray wolf who see family as the most important part of life. Source Yellowstone Forever

Here’s more from Yellowstone Forever

Listen to the Lamar Valley wolves howling in memory of Spitfire Alpha wolf 926..

People and Wolves: Encounter with three wild Wisconsin gray wolves…

This is Mickey Nelson’s account of her encounter with wild wolves. This is truly a story of coexisting with wolves…

In September of 2012, I was at our cabin in Douglas County Wisconsin. My husband was in the cabin and I decided to go for a walk with our dog, a Giant Schnauzer weighing in at about 100 lbs.

My husband keeps many trails cut on our property and so Max, my dog, and I started hiking through the trails. Max usually never left sight of me nor me of him and if I called him he always returned.

A few minutes went by and I didn’t see him. I called and he didn’t come back. I was close to a road so I walked through the brush and looked up the road. There at the intersection stood Max with three wolves. None of them were growling, no teeth showing, no hair standing up.

A Wisconsin Gray wolf photograph by Snapshot Wisconsin

I called to Max but he didn’t come. They were about 100 feet from me so I started walking toward them with my walking stick, {my weapon of choice} and kept calling Max. I reached them and I just stared at the wolves and grabbed Max by the collar and began backing up with him.

Two of the wolves were on one side of Max and the third was on the other side. As we started backing up, the two turned and went one way and the third turned and went a different way.

I walked back to the cabin as quickly as I could. I told my husband about it and we went out in the truck to track the wolves. There were five sets of tracks.

We have had that pack around for a couple of years and we are able to call them in. If I stand on our deck and howl, and if they are anywhere near, they start howling back and then come in closer, and usually about 30 feet from the cabin.

I am so grateful to have seen these magnificent animals so up close and personal. I talked to Adrien Wydeven head wolf biologist in Wisconsin at the time and he said I was just lucky to have had that experience and yes, their eyes are yellow! ~Mickey Nelson

About Mickey Nelson

I am very involved with everything in nature from, gardening, mushroom hunting, tracking and hiking. My husband and I built a small cabin in northern Wisconsin. We have two children and two grandsons. I also make the BEST fruitcake! ~Mickey Nelson – Wolf Howling Grandma