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

Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Italian Story…

Wolves have been persecuted and killed all over the world, but for different reasons. In Italy, for instance, the main cause of poaching and killing wolves is the conflict between farmers and predators. Erika Ottone, in her own words explains to us the situation and the possible solutions:

“MAN-WOLF CONFLICT: A SOCIAL-CULTURAL, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL ISSUE by Erika Ottone, veterinary surgeon Spec.TePACS, GPCert (EXAP).

Predations on domestic livestock are one of the main conservation problems of the Wolf, Canis lupus (Fernandez-Gil et al 2016; Mech & Boitani, 2003). The predations are concentrated above all in the areas where the farmers do not adopt correct breeding practices that guarantee the custody and the minimum means of protecting the livestock (Linnell & Boitani, 2012; Marino et al., 2016).
Checking the predations on the livestock is an activity carried out by a veterinary surgeon operating within the environmental managing agency and it allows to obtain information on management methods and above all to establish direct contact with the farmers of the territory. In fact, the ultimate goal of this activity is the identification of effective prevention and damage control plans for the livestock sector through the adoption of prevention tools and adequate breeding practices that could significantly reduce compensation damages and costs (Dalmasso et al ., 2012; Reinhardt et al., 2012)

Erika Ottone works with a Livestock farmer in Italy

A careful analysis of the collected information shows that the conflict between man and wolf is a socio-cultural, economic and political problem. The inadequacy of farm management systems can be attributed to the inefficient economic exploitation of the livestock sector, to the lack of willingness to adapt its management to an environmental context in which a predator is present, to the divulgation of incorrect information. There aren’t only the farmers involved in the men-wolves conflict, but all the citizens can favor the coexistence of men and wolves with their daily choices.

In the National Park of Pollino PNP, engaged for some time in monitoring the conflict between canine and zootechnics, a medical-legal verification activity was conducted on predations to domestic livestock, following a standardized procedure that includes, in addition to the report of the anatomical-pathological investigation, the detection of environmental facts and information related to the management of farms.

National Park of Pollino PNP

The analysis of the number of predations in relation to the number of farms operating in the area, and to the management and environmental context, has made it possible to identify “critical areas” in which the damage caused by predation is serious and frequent only in some of the farms present in the area. The analysis of the management methods of the affected farms confirms that improper management of the farm and the absence of effective precautionary measures, such as security, guard trained dogs, suitable fences and stables for night shelter of animals, may be the main predisposing factors to the high number of predations in that farm. (Dondina et al., 2015; Ciucci et al., 2018).
Therefore, the adoption of prevention tools and appropriate breeding practices identified for each farm could significantly reduce the damage (Dalmasso et al., 2012; Reinhardt et al., 2012). The PNP and other Italian parks, don’t limit themselves to indicate and suggest management solutions but they also  help the farms to realize suitable fences and deliver dogs on free loan of use with a stock of biscuits for dogs, thanks to the collaboration of some pet-food companies.
The lack of adequacy of management systems in some cases is linked to a lack of will to change and adapt one’s own developed and inherited farm managing system that was born in the past, and that now doesn’t fit to a natural context in which  predators are back. Farmers often report: “I have always done so, my grandfather and my father did so, now, just because you wanted wolves, have I to change?” It is easy to find a culprit and it is certainly easier to indulge than to educate; it is not easy to tell and explain the anthropic impact on nature, how man has changed the territory and how the wolf is now entering and adapting in a modified environmental context. It is not easy, yet in the work of monitoring the man-wolf conflict it is essential to engage in education and the divulgation of correct information.
In some cases, management inadequacy is also the consequence of difficult economic conditions. Farmers in large part are grouped together, thinking about their future, in a mood of pessimism. This situation is not only attributable to the conflict with the wolf, as the farmers themselves admit, but also to the poor economic valorization and the scarce consideration the farmers have: it often leads them to feel inadequate to the new social contexts. All the farmers operating in the area are aware of the presence of the wolf and the possibility of suffering predation, they know well that their animals are prey and that the predatory event is part of the natural role of a super predator such as the wolf, the problem is the repetition of predations, is the chronicity of the phenomenon.
Unfortunately the precarious and frustrating situation that the sector is experiencing, the divulgation of incorrect information and the media exploitation of the “wolf question” mean that the predatory event, which certainly creates significant damage to the farmer, becomes the scapegoat of a situation that has its roots in an inadequate economic, social, cultural and political system. Of course, we do not want to diminish the damage of predations on domestic livestock suffered by the farmer, damage which is recognized, compensated and which represents an opportunity for investigation aimed to improve the farm management methods, but certainly the damage in question would be perceived differently by the farmers in a greater economic and social development of the livestock sector.
The improvement of the economic and social situation can and must be the prerogative of everyone: every single citizen can give value to the local animal husbandry by buying its good products, and helping in the education and divulgation of correct information, always checking the sources, inquiring and asking experts in the field. Therefore, it is not correct if we speak about a conflict between livestock and wolves, limiting the issue to the farming sector alone, but it is right when we speak about a Man-Wolf conflict. We are all responsible through our choices of this conflict which, with good will and without exploitation, can change into coexistence.”

Erika Ottone, veterinary surgeon

Featured photography Of wolf by Antonio Iannibelli

An interview with the filmmakers of the Italian documentary ‘Stories of Men and Wolves’ 

Stories of Men and Wolves

A documentary film 

Directed by Alessandro Abba Legnazzi and Andrea Deaglio 

“Wolves are back. Someone has heard about, someone swears to have seen them moving about in the woods, someone else has heard them howling in the night. The shepherds show the remains of animals eaten with the sign of two canines under the throat. The photographers venturing into the mountains to spot them. Park rangers follow footprints in the snow and place their photo-traps. Resurface stories from the past and the inhabitants of the mountain villages are wondering about their future. Loved, hated, idealized. The wolves are back on the Alps.”  




The interview


by Brunella Pernigotti

Brunella: What urged you to investigate the return of wolves to our country and their relative problems? In other words, how did your documentary come to be?

Andrea and Alessandro: We are both townspeople and have viewed the wolf through fables. We had never seen a wolf in the wild. The wolf reminds us of a free spirit and that has always charmed us.

So, when we learned that wolves were back living in the west Alpine arc and that their presence had provoked a conflict between their defenders and those who consider them a problem, we decided it was time to meet them… to go where they live. In that way, we could tell what coexistence meant for the people who live and share the same mountain places as the wolves.

From the first on-the-spot investigations, we soon figured out that the core of our story should not be only about the wolves, but also about their indivisible connection with people.

Brunella: Could you tell us in few words what this documentary has meant to you and if there is something that has particularly impressed you during its making?

Andrea and Alessandro: This film made us think about the town – mountain relations and the conflicts that often arise between people who live in the mountains and the people who see the mountains only from a city point of view. It made us concentrate on how living in the mountains is a good thing, but it is also difficult nevitably, it led us to reflect on ourselves, on the places where we live, on what we are, and on our often neglected relationship with nature.  Of course there were several things that impressed us. Especially the sensations we felt through the eyes of the people and of the wolves. If we think back on our work, the first memories we have are: the carcasses of the prey; the worn-out, but dignified eyes of the shepherds; the marvelous and happy veterinarians of C.A.N.C. (a center of wild animal recovery) when they rescued and successfully healed the female wolf, Hope; how Hope appeared while she was kept in a cage, the words of the forester who said that “wolf matters” exist but they shouldn’t be faced with a medieval mind.

Brunella: As you already told me, your approach is clearly anthropological and your images convey very well both the passion of the natural photographers who track the wolves in our mountains and also, the understandable concerns of the livestock breeders. However, in your narration, there isn’t a voiceover which could affect the viewer’s opinion. I guess that was a deliberate choice…

Andrea and Alessandro: Yes, indeed, it was. The matter of the return of
the wolves and, in general, of a great predator in the Alps, basically divided people into two important factions: those who are for and those who are against. There aren’t many halfway measures on the subject. That’s why we preferred not to take sides and to remain neutral. We tried to observe several situations without giving our opinion, so we allowed the protagonists to tell us of their relationship with the wolves. Our goal was to present a mosaic of varied voices that would explain the “wolf matters” only by means of their direct experience with these animals.

Brunella: The running time of this documentary is about one hour and fifteen minutes. But how long did it take you to make it?

Andrea and Alessandro: We worked on it over three and a half years; during that time we did research and went to the western Alps to meet the protagonists of our stories. The footage is considerable: it covers more than a hundred hours of shooting, and the people we met are much more than those who are represented in the film. This kind of work requires hard choices, and so we couldn’t tell all the stories we had heard. However, as we’d like to give voice to everybody, we opened a special web site (www.storiedilupi.it) where you can find a lot more information, photos and stories.

Brunella: In Italy, these days, there is a debate on the possibility of programmed killings of wolves – maybe 60 individuals a year. This proposal has been presented in the National Operations Plan for the species [Piano Nazionale d’Azione per la Specie], which is up for passage as a law. Would you comment on it?

Andrea and Alessandro: We are against any kind of programmed killing. It’s not the answer to the question of how to redefine the “balance” To be honest, we don’t know the right answer. Thanks to the limited experience we gained through this project, we can say that the “wolf matters” have become a big political question where considerable economic interests are involved. As it usually happens, where there are interests of this kind, chaos and confusion follow and conflicts are deliberately brought on, so that everyone has a lot to gain from it. Yes, everyone, except the shepherds and the wolves, are the real victims of someone else’s desire for profit.

We think that the programmed killing is just a political means suited to assure a kind of social cohesion. This politicians’ line of reasoning could be simplified this way:

We (politicians) will convince you (people that live in the mountains) that wolves are your biggest problem. We will hide behind this lie, our carelessness and our faults and you will forget that we have left you to your own devices. And then we will urge you to complain, to demonstrate, to rise up against the scapegoat that we deliberately created. Then we will show you that we are on your side and that we want to help you by proposing to kill some wolves, but just those that are killing your sheep. We will tell you that you must rely on us, even if you don’t trust us completely. You will be quiet for a while… you will. This programmed killing has no use; it’s just a farce – a misleading solution!

 

Brunella: The recent documentary Medicine of the Wolf made in Minnesota, tells about the fears and problems that wolves have always aroused, just like Storie di uomine e lupi (Stories of Men and Wolves) does. Do you think it’s a coincidence that now so many people and governments are dealing with the same issues?

Andrea and Alessandro: No, we don’t think so. And in fact, it’s not a coincidence that it’s happening now. In the western tradition, the wolf has always been represented as a villain or a frightfully wild beast. For human beings, the wolf has always been synonymous with fear, so men tried to attach every type of evil on it. The wolf frightens men like the unknown, and like every different and strange thing. We also think it’s not a coincidence that wolves have appeared again in a world where social values are in a crisis and have been degraded. It’s almost like a coincidence: when men are more lost, the wolves return.

Brunella: Who should watch your documentary? In other words, is there a kind of person it’s particularly meant for? Why?

Andrea and Alessandro: This film is for everyone who knows little or nothing about wolves and wants to find out what they really represent. It’s time for the wolves’ story to be told, not only as a fable or through imaginary characters. They really exist, they live in our mountains and maybe, sometimes, we can also meet them. It’s time to start saying that wolves are not only a problem, but also an important resource.

Characters

 

Ajassa Tiziano – breeder, Titian Aiassa, 28 years runs the business of cattle breeding that his father founded. Since childhood he attended with his family pastures above Limone Piemonte. After his studies he decided to take over his father’s company by expanding and investing capital. Loves the breeder work, he does with passion and dedication, caring and selecting the Piedmontese cattle native breed. His dream is to spread the meat fassone worldwide. In recent years he has suffered the loss of dozens of leaders due to attacks by wolves in the mountain pastures.

 

Hope, a wolf wounded GO TO THE GALLERY A wolf , later christened Hope , was found wounded in Pragelato, along the main road for Sestriere, near Turin, in December 2012. After being captured and transported animals at the Center for Non Conventional at the University of Veterinary Grugliasco (TO) has been entrusted to the care of prof. Giuseppe Quaranta and Mitzy Mauthe Dr. Von Degerfeld. From there it was transported to the center Men and Wolves of Entracque (CN) and perhaps will be released.

 

Photo credit: Paolo Bosio 

Information on  Stories of Men and Wolves

a documentary film

Year 2015 Duration 75 ‘ Format 16: 9 / HD / Color Directed by Alessandro Abba Legnazzi and Andrea Deaglio With video and photographic contributions by Stefano Polliotto, Michele Corti, Lidia Ellena, Stephen and Stephanie Unterthiner, Imperia Provincial Police, Nicola Sordello Produced by BabyDoc Film (Turin) Quartier Latin Media (France) With the support of Film Commission Torino Piemonte and Film Commission Vallée d’Aoste executive production of Andrea Parena, Michel Noll B Alessandro Abba Legnazzi, Ivan Augello Francesca Frigo, Andrea Deaglio Mounting Isabelle Collin Sound in direct Niccolo Bosio

Stories of Men and Wolves Facebook page 


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Brunella Pernigotti lives in Turin, Italy. She is a teacher, a writer and a photographer. She published a novel and a book of tales and has to her credit about ten one-man exhibitions of photos. She is member of the board of a non-profit association of Turin, “Tribù del Badnightcafè”, that organizes cultural and artistic events. 

View posts by Brunella Pernigotti: On the trail of the Italian wolf

Italian Documentary Film: Storie di uomini e lupi – Stories of men and wolves – reviewed by Brunella Pernigotti 

Information about the documentary 

Storie di uomini e lupi – Stories of men and wolves  

 “They are back. Some people swear they have seen them moving about in the woods; someone else heard them howling in the night. The shepherds show the remains of their killed animals bearing the signs of two canines under their throat. The photographers venture on the mountains to spot them. Park rangers follow footprints in the snow and place their photo-traps. Dreadful stories come back from the past and the inhabitants of the mountain villages are wondering about their future. Loved, hated, idealized, the wolves are back in the Alps.”
   “We have started a journey that led us to the Italian Alpine valleys of Piedmont, Liguria, and Aosta Valley and, in France, to the Ubaye Valley. On our way we have learned that in the mountain villages where wolves have come back, just saying the word “wolf” is enough to open a “Pandora’s box”. It’s like a swollen river that springs from the simple, little event of the return of this animal and then floods the contemporary society with a vortex of problems related to our land, condition and occupation, up to some political and philosophical matters about the human beings and their relationship with nature.”  (Source)

  Anna Rotella – shepherdess Anna Rotella lives in Val Savaranche where she set up with her  partner Claudio a farm that produces milk and cheese from pure goat. Despite the wolf did ” peep ” several times near her goats, she thinks it’s a beautiful animal and it should not be persecuted

 The review by Brunella Pernigotti 

“Storie di uomini e lupi” is a documentary, by Andrea Deaglio and Alessandro Abba Legnazzi, which was presented last October, during the Turin Cinemambiente Film Festival: a film festival focused on the issues about the environment.

 This documentary, as they have well explained in the synopsis, looks into the problems of the return of wolves (Canis lupus italicus) on the Alps after more than a century, and reports the search for new habitats these animals do in order to settle down again. The biologists call this phenomenon: dispersione, that means dispersal. In Italy human beings and wolves never coexisted in peace: the configuration itself of the mountains doesn’t offer large and flat lands: everywhere there are only high rocky picks and narrow valleys, so men and animals have always had to contend for the remaining space to live in.

  Image: Tracks in Val Maira E ‘ along the ski slope to the bottom of Prazzo that wolves seem to prefer bring down their prey .  Often here in fact are found remains of prey animals ( very often roe ) .

The return of the wolves in the northern Alps was indirectly caused by humans themselves who, in 1990s, reintroduced in the woods a lot of deers, chamois, and wild boars to be hunted. Nowadays the few shepherds that still populate our mountains complain about the difficulties they have in their daily activity, so they regard the wolves as a new threat.
Some people interviewed in the documentary are pro wolf and say that wolves are indeed a problem, because they awaken ancient and medieval fears that must be faced;  however, these difficulties must be faced with a modern outlook. They consider wolves, for instance, an increasing tourist attraction not only for ecologists, biologists and researchers, but also for people who simply want to know something more about them.  These Scientists climb mountain slopes in order to see wolves. 

On the other hand, there are some inhabitants of our mountain villages who say that the return of the wolves is considered by some townspeople to be from an old world point of view. These people who live in the mountains have suffered the loss and damages to their livestock (that is their only source of income). These livestock producers would like a more objective policy of management in order to save both wild and domestic animals. For example, they suggest livestock producers adopt some dogs that would be able to face a wolf attack, such as the Pyrenees sheepdogs. The downside is in tourist areas because this breed of dog can be aggressive with people. So they ask: “What should we do?”
 
  Image: Fulvio Benedetto – Pastor, Fulvio Benedict has a very large goat herd.  Especially in the summer in the mountain pastures with his animals , usually on the border between Val Chisone and the Valley of Susa, has been facing the wolf. And even he managed to put it on the run. 

Without doubt, this documentary shows a well-balanced and realistic view both of the problems and the resources that wolves represent for our country. I highly recommend that the government officials watch this documentary before deciding on programmed killing of wolves in the northern Alps.  The European policy states that they are endangered and protected animals. 

  
Image: Lupo appenninico – Italian Appennine wolf 

*Watch for Brunella Pernigotti’s full interview with the filmmakers.

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  Brunella Pernigotti lives in Turin, Italy. She is a teacher, a writer and a photographer. She published a novel and a book of tales and has to her credit about ten one-man exhibitions of photos. She is member of the board of a non-profit association of Turin, “Tribù del Badnightcafè”, that organizes cultural and artistic events.