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 www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com

Women & Advocacy…

…the success of the wolf pack depends on the strength of the alpha female.

I’ve known Klein for several years now and have had the distinct pleasure of watching her grow into her role as a wolf and wildlife advocate. In that brief time she’s co-founded an organization, Plan B To Save Wolves, who’s mission is to assist wolf organizations in achieving their goals. Klein also co-organized the successful event Sedona Wolf Week 2017, 2018, & 2019. The 2020 Sedona Wolf Week is set for November 10-15th.

About Betsy Klein

Betsy Klein is co-founder of Plan B to Save Wolves, the annual event Sedona Wolf Week and founder of I Am Wolf Nation™. She started working with a wolf rescue in 2014 at a sanctuary in California and upon moving to Sedona, formed her own nonprofit to help educate people about wolves while driving awareness of their plight in addition to saving wolves and wolf dogs in need of rescue and care. She has recently joined the HSUS as a District Leader, joined the HSUS Wildlife Team of Arizona and is working to become a lobbyist for wolves and wildlife.

For over 20 years Betsy has collaborated with many nonprofits beginning with her position as Marketing Chair on the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Board of Directors in the mid 90s. Her nonprofit experience is diverse and has included Board, staff and volunteer positions with an emphasis on her development, marketing and leadership skills. Currently Betsy lives in Sedona, Arizona with her husband Timon, two cats and two wolfdogs, all rescues. When she is not working on her wolf projects, she is managing her own company The SmartGal Marketing Services.

Woman in Wolf Advocacy Series Interview of Betsy Klein

Tell us about a particular experience in your childhood that inspired the advocacy work you do today.

To be honest there isn’t an incident from my childhood that led me to this path of animal advocacy and specifically to wolves. In fact I grew up in a very rural area where we raised our beef and pigs for our family’s consumption, as well as chickens for their eggs, and the men in the family hunted during deer season. My neighbors owned the local slaughterhouse, and it was not unusual to see dogs and cats outside, never inside, at most of the surrounding homes and farms.

I think the turning point came much later in life when I connected to my inner spirit. When I refer to inner spirit I am referring to the understanding that we are all connected, including people and animals. I began to understand that because of this connection, what we do to animals we are essentially doing to ourselves. Hence our tagline “When we save wolves, we save ourselves” because wolves are especially connected to humans through culture, history, the ecosystem, our food and more.

I know that you were a volunteer for Wolf Connection. When did you start volunteering there and why?

When I lived in Sedona, Arizona in 2013 I went to the Medicine Wheel Lodge in Rimrock and met Healing Wolf and her wolves. I had begun following the plight of the wolf prior to that visit, and having that personal interaction with them solidified for me; that I was going to do all that I could to help these magnificent creatures. I had no idea at the time what that would be other than signing a lot of petitions and writing letters.

In the photograph: Timon Pratt and Betsy Klein husband and wife co-founders of Plan B Foundation

At the end of 2014 I moved back to LA and in my job search came across someone, who upon learning my passion for wolves, mentioned he was on the Board of Directors for Wolf Connection. He’s suggested I consider volunteering there. I immediately signed up, and the volunteer process is quite rigorous, as they work with you to gauge your commitment; in addition to learning about wolves. When I first started I washed a lot dishes and raked. I didn’t even get to pick up wolf poop for my first three months as that required going into their enclosures, and you had to go through a process first in order to be able to do that. I was so excited the day I learned I was eligible to now pick up wolf poop. Kind of funny when you think about it. 😉

I learned a lot at Wolf Connection, and it truly gave me my start to where I am today. I learned so much about wolves, wolf dogs and myself. We did a lot of programs at Wolf Connection and it is such pure joy to watch people experience wolves for the first time because it is in that moment they realize wolves are not the demons of fairy tales. But are rather magnificent animals that are essential and must be saved. If I could bottle that moment, and give it to everyone, I absolutely would.

“When we save wolves, we save ourselves” ~Betsy Klein

I will always be thankful for Wolf Connection, and that is where I met Paula Ficara and Steve Wastell who are the co-founders of Apex Protection Project . Our friendship has flourished and together we have made such an impact with the creation of Sedona Wolf Week and most recently I AM Wolf Nation. Paula and Steve are as close to Timon and I as anyone can get with what we have experienced together in this shared passion; to save wolves and wolf dogs. I sincerely could not imagine my life without them.

Why wolves? What about the Gray wolf inspired you to work to protect him?

The gray wolf is iconic and represents so much. Yet modern man has been on this campaign to eradicate them from the planet. How did the original man’s best friend become the perceived worse enemy? Why is there so much fear and complete lack of science and logic when it comes to dealing with wolves? My inspiration came from this injustice, and I knew I had to become a voice for them. To do what I could to try and penetrate the misperceptions, to remove the fear and loathing based on fairy tales. Just knowing if I could just impact one person, they in turn could impact another, and so on. I cannot and will not a world without wolves.

I have known you for a couple years now. I’ve watched you grow into your advocacy work; starting with being a Wolf Connection volunteer, then creating your own organization called Plan B To Save Wolves. At Sedona Wolf Week 2018 you talked about how you came up with the name for Plan B. Can you tell us that story?

When I moved back to Sedona, Arizona at the end of 2015, I knew I wanted to do something to help wolves, and wolf dog. But I just wasn’t sure what that would be. Timon was very supportive, we knew we didn’t want to start a sanctuary, but rather create something that would be helpful to many. A quick side note, I should mention Timon calls me “B” and I call him “T” as our nicknames for each other. With that said he would frequently say to me “What’s the plan B?” within our daily lives.

One day at lunch I was pitching to Timon the idea of creating an organization that helped other non profits that specifically supported wolves and wolf dogs with marketing, development/fundraising and board development. You see I have many years experience in this area, and I know a lot of smaller organizations cannot either afford full time staff or consultants. I would of course offer this for free to those groups.

As usual I was hesitating because I didn’t know if it was a good idea, if anyone would be interested or how to get started. A bit ironic given what I do for a living, but when it comes to yourself, and your personal journey, sometimes it is hard to put that focus on yourself.

So during my back and forth, wondering out loud if it was a good idea, and what we would even call the organization, Timon pulled out his phone and called up a file on his screen and showed it to me. It was a logo he had already created with the name Plan B. “You are their Plan B.” he said, “Everyone needs a Plan B.”

So obviously I started to cry because of his overwhelming love and support of my intentions that really gave me that final nudge to move forward by creating the name and logo. Officially we are Plan B Foundation, Inc., with the dba Plan B to Save Wolves. And pretty much daily Timon will say to me “What’s the plan B?”

Another interesting element to this story is when I first arrived in Sedona, I started working part time at the Humane Society of Sedona. The Executive Director at the time was Birgitte Silver and everyone just called her “B”. When she first interviewed me she reviewed my resume and said simply “I cannot afford you.” My reply? I didn’t mind I just wanted to work with animals, and so I started the following week. Life in rescue is tough and sometimes you have to make decisions that no one else ever wants to make. B gave her life to the humane society and I highly respected her. Unfortunately she passed unexpectedly one night in December 2012, but she is someone I will always honor.

You’ve organized an event for wolves called Sedona Wolf Week. When and why did you create this event? When is the next Sedona Wolf Week 2019?

So just thinking about the answer to this question brings a few tears of joy to my eyes. Such a journey! It all started unofficially in 2016 when I asked Patrick Schweiss, the Executive Director of the Sedona International Film Festival to take a look at the film Medicine of the Wolf, and consider it for the festival, which he did. However he did not put it in the festival but rather scheduled it for two showings before Earth Day giving it the attention it warranted.

At this time Paula, Steve, Timon and I had been talking back and forth about various things we could do together and so we came up with the idea of them coming to Sedona with the pack, and they could do a Q&A after each film so the audience could see a wolfdog up close and personal. And from there it just grew! We booked school presentations, decided to host a fundraising party at our home, and executed a raffle where the highest bidder could win a private hike with the pack.

Needless to say the four days were whirlwind, and exceeded all expectations. In fact the first two showings of the film sold out so Patrick called and asked if we could add a third, and we said yes. That sold out in 40 minutes. So he called and asked if we could add another showing and we did which also sold out with a waiting list. Patrick has since told me this is the first and only time this has happened in the history of the festival.

At the end of it all we were all sitting outside at Poco Diablo Resort restaurant, nine of us, plus four wolf dogs all completely exhausted eating, and drinking while we relived the last few days. It was at that point Kristen Lee, Lee Wastell’s (brother to Steve) girlfriend said “you guys should do this every year and call it Sedona Wolf Week.”

That is literally how the idea came into being.

Sedona Wolf Week 2017 we planned in about five months, 2018 we began as soon as the 2017 event was over, and we are in midst of planning 2019 which will take place March 25th through the 30th.

The reason for the tears of joy I mentioned? Because we have met and connected with so many people who have become lifelong friends and supporters. Because we watch children interact with a wolf dog, an experience so few ever will have, and know their lives are changed forever. Because people we consider our heroes come and tell us we are theirs because of our efforts to save wolves. Because I do this event with the three best people in the world. There is just so much love in Sedona Wolf Week.

Has working in wolf advocacy changed you? In what way or ways has it changed you?

I would say first and foremost I have a lot more discernment with everything. There is a lot of information out there, and you have to do your homework; your own research to be sure what you say is as accurate as it can be. I feel I have to be in integrity to the best of my ability when it comes to being a voice for wolves as anything I get “wrong” can become a negative reflection on all wolf advocates and wolves themselves.

It has also greatly impacted how I live my life. For me I cannot advocate for wolves, the great balancers of the ecosystem and nature, and not take personal steps to be in balance with our environment, and planet. I have since switched to a plant based diet, I buy only cruelty free products, I no longer purchase leather or even fake fur, and my mantra each day, when I rise; is to do as little harm as possible to where I live which is where I coexist with wolves, and all the other animal beings. I have to say that isn’t easy as so much is made from animals, but I do my best. I’d also like to reiterate this is a personal choice for me. I know many wonderful and amazing wolf advocates who do none or some of those things.

I have also become very aware of so many things I never knew existed including what the department of Wildlife Services really does, that killing contests, and derbies exist, trophy hunting and trapping to name a few. My eyes have been opened.

Speaking out against those atrocities is now my number one priority. I feel as though I have finally found my voice in wolf advocacy and fully plan on using it. In addition to Sedona Wolf Week, this year I will be speaking, along with Paula, at the 2018 International Wolf Symposium. I have also begun lobbying, starting in Phoenix earlier this year and will be going to Washington DC to lobby at our nation’s capital. Additionally I joined the HSUS AZ Wildlife Team and will be attending a conference in August to learn how to create legislation that protects wildlife.

I truly believe these acts, these “events”, these barbaric practices are unacceptable and should be abolished, that if humanity really knew about them, they would no longer exist. That is now my passion and mission.

What’s the hardest part about working to protect wolves? What or who helps you get through the “hard parts” and gives you hope to continue this work?

In terms of the mission of Plan B, Sedona Wolf Week and I AM WOLF NATION™ the hardest part is finding the balance between sharing what is really happening to wolves and wildlife (the bad stuff) with the good stories, and happy endings. Unfortunately we could post and email daily something heinous that is happening to wolves that needs public attention, and response. With that comes compassion fatigue, and pretty soon people won’t take action because they won’t even open the email from us. It gets tedious, and I absolutely understand that.

Unfortunately the more brutal images are what inspires and motivates people to take action. We ran a Facebook ad of a beautiful wolf asking people to sign a petition against trapping with very little response. When we ran the ad showing a wolf caught in a trap and a man laughing with a gun getting ready to kill it; the response was overwhelming. I get criticized for showing those images from time to time, but until it affects someone personally, affects them deeply, and personally, they will not act. It is that simple.

For me personally to say it is challenging sometimes to manage the overwhelming sense of helplessness, and frustration is an understatement. Thankfully I can just cry on Timon’s shoulder which I have done numerous times. I journal. I hike almost every morning with Timon and our two rescued wolf dogs among the gorgeous red rocks of Sedona and just try to be grateful for what has been done, what is being done and what we plan on doing to help make this a better world for wolves.

The important thing is to feel the grief, or the anger, then release it. You cannot let it take you over, and you cannot try to tuck it away.

If you could snap your fingers and cause immediate change; what would that change look like?

That there no longer is duality between animals and people. What I mean by that is that human “beings” recognize the “being” in animals and that we are essentially all beings deserving of love, respect and freedom. With that realization, the senseless need to trophy hunt, exterminate, trap, abuse and more are no longer even in our thought process. They are inconceivable.

We recently updated our mission statement to reflect this desired change we want to create and will be announcing our new vision and updating all of our content accordingly very soon.

About the photograph: Best Congressional meeting ever! Thanks to the staffers in Rep. David Schweikert’s office for sharing their two giant office dogs with us! Taking Action For Animals Conference 2018. Betsy Klein

Tell us about plan B To Save Wolves: what’s the latest news, and what are you working on now?

Such a great question, and very relevant as the team convened last week to discuss the overall strategic direction of Plan B to Save Wolves and I AM WOLF NATION™. Key initiatives for Plan B is an update on the branding, mission statement and initiatives for the organization. What we thought we would be doing 18 months ago when we started is so far from where we actually are as an organization, and I mean that in a great way! Plan B has made such an impact that we need to accelerate our thinking, and refocus our strategy to continue to be effective in making a difference. Expect more in terms of education, and outreach in the form of events including Sedona Wolf Week, speaking engagements, and fundraisers. I am very excited to announce I, along with Paula Ficara of Apex Protection Project, will be speaking at the 2018 International Wolf Symposium, and I hope that is just one of many to come.

Plus we will continue our every day rescue efforts where we fund what we can to help save lives. Most recently we have found ourselves the champions of mislabeled “wolf dogs”, dogs who have been labeled a wolf dog, their fate would have been euthanization if not for Plan B stepping in. Our plan is to reach out to local shelters, and animal control officers for some training in phenotyping to minimize the risk of any dog being euthanized because it has been mislabeled.

For I AM WOLF NATION™ expect to see more lobbying, and focus on major strategic initiatives; such as ending killing contests starting here in our home state of Arizona.

Do you have anything else you would like to tell us?

I hosted a dinner party once, and after talking about wolves one of my guests said to me “I hope you don’t expect me to care about wolves as much as you do.” I responded, “Absolutely not, but I do expect you to care about something. There are many causes that need champions and it is our responsibility to be of service in some way that makes this a better world for all.”

Find that cause that moves you and be their champion. Be a catalyst for transforming humanity.

For more about Betsy Klein’s work go to www.planb.foundation

The 2020 Sedona Wolf Week is set for November 10-15th.

THE FBI TRIED TO USE THE #METOO MOMENT TO PRESSURE AN ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST INTO BECOMING AN INFORMANT

September 1 2018, 7:00 a.m.

JULIE HENRY WAS jogging when she got the call from the FBI. She didn’t recognize the number, which had a Washington state area code, but she answered anyway. The FBI agent identified herself as Kera O’Reilly, and said that Henry wasn’t in any trouble. O’Reilly was there to help.

The phone call, which Henry received on February 22, 2018, brought her back to an internal conflict that she thought she’d finished wrestling with two years earlier. O’Reilly wanted to talk to Henry about her online account of sexual assault, which was strange if you consider that the offense is a crime over which federal agents rarely have jurisdiction. But it made perfect sense considering the person she wanted to discuss: Rod Coronado.

Rod Coronado

To his supporters in the animal rights community, Coronado is a folk hero who has lived his convictions. People have even written songs celebrating him. To the FBI, Coronado is an eco-terrorist, an arsonist, and a criminal. Although the agency has already managed to put him in prison four separate times, including for setting fire to a mink research facility and dismantling a mountain lion trap, law enforcement apparently still isn’t finished with the 52-year-old activist, who publicly denounced sabotage as a tactic more than a decade ago.

Yet for all of his public accolades and detractors, Henry knew a different side of him.

Nearly four years ago, Henry says, in the midst of a campaign to monitor a state-sanctioned wolf hunt with Coronado’s organization Wolf Patrol, in a remote area outside Yellowstone National Park, Coronado sexually assaulted her. Henry says she didn’t even think about calling law enforcement. Activists aren’t supposed to talk to cops, and definitely not to FBI agents. For months, she stayed silent. But then, after agonizing over the decision, she participated in an alternative attempt at accountability — she described Coronado’s assault in an email posted to a closed activist listserv and later published the details publicly in the activist Earth First! Journal.

Henry doesn’t regret her decision, but the process was painful and disappointing. Coronado denied that anything nonconsensual happened. Although many supported her, others — including some she’d considered friends and allies — didn’t believe her. Some went so far as to label her a snitch and a federal operative, smears often directed at someone perceived to have weakened the movement by talking publicly about internal divisions that law enforcement can exploit.

julie-1535583321A self-portrait Julie Henry took after she was assaulted, she says, in November 2014 near the northern border of Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Courtesy of Julie Henry

The FBI call brought all of that flooding back. “I’m a woman working in a man’s world, so I get it,” Henry recalls O’Reilly telling her. “I just want you to know that I believe you, and I’m so sorry that that happened.”

“We’re in the throes of the #MeToo moment,” O’Reilly told Henry, and that had inspired her to reach out. Henry hung up as quickly as possible, sharing nothing. But O’Reilly promised she’d call back.

“My loyalty always has to be with the movement, because the FBI could do so much damage,” Henry told The Intercept. She had no interest in assisting the agency in investigating activists, but she worried that ignoring O’Reilly’s questions about sexual assault could risk endangering other women. “Something was going to happen either way, and I felt, and still feel, completely responsible,” she said. “Whether it’s nothing that happens and he continues to hurt people, I feel responsible for that.”

After O’Reilly left a voice message a few days later, Henry called her back, despite the risks. “I know this is dangerous without having a lawyer. But I have to do this for me,” Henry recalls thinking. “I wanted to ask her why.”

O’Reilly repeated many of the same things she had said before, but one thing stuck in Henry’s head. “‘I understand, it may be hard to talk about the details; we can talk about other things,’” Henry recalls the FBI agent telling her. “And every time she said that I was like, that’s what she really wants.”

After she hung up, Henry Googled O’Reilly. She found a Seattle Times story describing O’Reilly’s years at the bureau, and her previous job as a counselor for sex offenders. But what really caught Henry’s eye was a report in The Stranger, a Seattle newspaper, that described how O’Reilly and two other FBI agents had visited six climate activists in July 2013 and asked “about opposition to tar sands development and brought photographs, hoping the activists would identify the people in them.”

“This has nothing to do with me,” Henry realized. “She wants to get to everyone.”

Henry hired a lawyer, Daniel Ayoade Yoon, to follow up. Ayoade Yoon made a recording of the call, which Henry provided to The Intercept.

“We are in the throes of the #MeToo movement, women are coming forward and being very strong about [how] this is not OK,” O’Reilly repeated in her call with Ayoade Yoon. “Women aren’t going to stand for it, and so I just thought I’d provide this opportunity if she wanted it to report it.” O’Reilly said she realized she had been thinking of her investigation of Coronado “too narrowly” after she stumbled across the Earth First! article providing Henry’s account. She acknowledged that she didn’t know what federal charges might be applicable to Henry’s case. She tossed out hypotheticals — Did Coronado take photos of Henry? Did they cross state lines? — but admitted, “Traditionally, as you know, most of these charges are handled on a local level.”

Their 38-minute conversation quickly shifted to Coronado’s other activities. “Maybe there’s other different criminal charges that don’t have to do with sexual assault she may be aware of — I’m open ears to any of those things.” O’Reilly said. She said that Coronado was “on her radar” as a possible suspect in a 2008 arson of a real estate development called Street of Dreams in a suburb of Seattle. A spray-painted sign nearby included the initials ELF, which stand for Earth Liberation Front, an organization for which Coronado had acted as a spokesperson in the past.

O’Reilly offered to make Henry an informant, technically known as a confidential human source, saying that there was “no pressure” and “if she doesn’t want it to go anywhere … I’ll take it as that.”

She told Ayoade Yoon that in addition to information about Coronado, she was interested in building trust so that the FBI would know about “direct actions that are outside the bell curve of what is normal — acceptable within the code of conduct within activist communities.”

Her final touch: an argument not so different from the one that left Henry so conflicted after the initial outreach. “I just think Rod Coronado is a bad person, and I think he uses his power and control — just a lot of men in different industries are now getting in trouble for — to hurt women,” O’Reilly said. “I would love for the activist community to say, ‘You’re not our guy — you’re not the centerfold of our platform.’”

“Ms. O’Reilly is on a fishing expedition for information regarding Rod Coronado, other dirt, other people who may have dirt on him,” Ayoade Yoon wrote to Henry after talking with O’Reilly. He was not impressed.

The fact that O’Reilly was unable to describe how any charges could be pursued against Coronado for the alleged sexual assault, Ayoade Yoon wrote, “further leads me to believe that she is merely hoping to get an inside look at Rod Coronado, his organization, or the activist community in general. As opposed to actually helping you in prosecuting him on your behalf.”

The FBI had weaponized #MeToo to pressure Henry into becoming an informant. To Henry, O’Reilly’s call was a clear attempt to prey on her desire for accountability and twist it to meet the bureau’s own ends. Henry refused to cooperate.

Rod Coronado poses with his cat, Nau, in his home in Tucson, Ariz. Thursday, Aug. 23, 2007. Coronado thinks of himself as an environmentalist, while others would prefer the term eco-terrorist. Renowned for helping sink whaling ships in the North Atlantic and firebombing a Michigan animal-research facility, he toured the country after prison time telling others how to make do-it-yourself Molotov cocktails. (AP Photo/John Miller)Rod Coronado poses with his cat, Nau, in his home in Tucson, Ariz., on Aug. 23, 2007. Photo: John Miller/AP

The Green Scare

The FBI has a long history of using sex to gather information or encourage illegal behavior in order to further its investigations. Most notoriously, under COINTELPRO, FBI agents attempted to blackmail Martin Luther King Jr. into killing himself by threatening to reveal his extramarital affairs.

More recently, the FBI has repeatedly used women as “honeypots” in terrorism cases, dispatching female agents or informants to entice Muslim men into manufactured plots. Craig Monteilh, a longtime FBI informant, said that his handlers told him to have sex with Muslim women to gather information that could be used against suspects.

In the mid-2000s, during a period of such intense FBI targeting of environmental activists that it became known as the “Green Scare,” the bureau went after Eric McDavid, whose flirtation with a woman named Anna led to a vague plot to take down targets in northern California. Anna, it turned out, was Zoe Elizabeth Voss, a paid FBI informant. McDavid was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.

O’Reilly’s overture to Henry inverted this long-standing dynamic. Instead of using sexual relations to coax information or action out of unwitting individuals, the FBI positioned itself as a corrective to abuse. Where activists had fallen short, O’Reilly could provide justice — if only Henry would share information.

And even though the dynamic had been reversed, O’Reilly’s approach is common in law enforcement: Find a vulnerability and exploit it. “This is kind of what the FBI does,” says Mike German, a fellow at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice and a former FBI agent. “If they’re seeking information about a particular target, they look everywhere they can find that information, and they use whatever tools are available lawfully.”

When it came to O’Reilly’s comment that she wanted to undermine Coronado as a movement leader, German acknowledged that it was “inappropriate for the FBI to decide who should be leading any kind of political organization.” But, he added, it wouldn’t be considered unacceptable for an FBI agent to say something like that to a potential cooperator in furtherance of an investigation.

In an emailed statement, FBI Public Affairs Officer Ayn S. Dietrich-Williams said, “The FBI does not police ideology. When an individual takes action based on belief or ideology and breaks the law, the FBI will enforce the rule of law.” The spokesperson said that investigative activity is required to follow the agency’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide.

“All allegations of criminal activity are reviewed using a myriad of investigative techniques and are vetted for jurisdiction. Even if investigators were to determine that an alleged activity does not constitute a violation of federal law, we refer the matter to appropriate agencies, in the interest of victims’ rights and the administration of justice,” she said. “Often, investigative efforts uncover information that suggests possible additional, related criminal activity.”

“In some cases, a potential victim of a crime may be offered opportunities to provide information anonymously and with a degree of federal protection. We do so with the individual’s safety considered, which in turn provides investigators the best opportunity to collect complete information,” said the spokesperson.

But Henry’s story isn’t just about the FBI. The same misogynistic power dynamics present in the culture at large also permeate social movements that publicly pledge liberation and justice. And in movements that have been heavily targeted by law enforcement, holding abusers accountable can be exceedingly difficult — especially when an activist describes abuse by a movement martyr.

Coronado carried out some of the radical animal rights movement’s earliest and most notorious actions. In the late 1980s and early 90s, he released 200 wild horses and freed turkey vultures, beagles, coyotes, and minks. He launched an organization to capture disturbing footage of the mink farm industry’s pelting season. And in a slew of attacks that he called Operation Bite Back, he torched buildings and used hydrochloric acid to destroy the work of research facilities supporting the fur industry or practicing animal testing. He hit state universities in Utah, Oregon, Washington, and Michigan.

Bombed-out remains of a mink research lab at MI State Univ.; the militant ALF, the Animal Liberation Front, which opposes human exploitation of animals, was responsible for the bombing. (Photo by Chris Holmes/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)In 1992, Rod Coronado firebombed a mink research facility at Michigan State University under the banner of the Animal Liberation Front. Photo: Chris Holmes/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

In a movement that is largely white, Coronado, who grew up in the suburbs of San Jose, is of Yaqui heritage, something that has been an important part of his identity. After Coronado went into hiding in the mid-1990s, federal agents found him on the Pascua Yaqui reservation in Arizona. He spent four years in prison for his involvement in torching the Michigan State University research facility. But the government’s pursuit of Coronado never really let up.

In 2003, at a talk Coronado was giving in San Diego, an undercover police officer overheard him tell the audience how to build an incendiary device — instructions that can be found on the internet, as well as in books sold on Amazon. He was arrested two and a half years later under a 1999 anti-terrorism statute that had rarely been applied. He was sentenced to another year in prison.

And in 2010, he was arrested again for violating parole terms that demanded he abstain from communicating with anyone in the activist community. For friending another activist on Facebook, he was sentenced to another four months.

He wasn’t alone. During the Green Scare, more than two dozen activists were indicted between 2004 and 2008 for involvement in actions that the FBI framed as eco-terrorism. Old loyalties were shattered as some exchanged lighter sentences for information about their comrades, and the paranoia and distrust that had long permeated the movement deepened.

In radical activist communities, arenas imagined to be internal, personal, or private have always been potential tools for the FBI, and some activists have used the bureau’s past misdeeds as a shield against allegations of abuse.

Brian Frank, an organizer with Earth First! and Rising Tide during the early 2000s, has seen his share of well-liked activists accused of intimate partner violence or sexual assault. “I think pretty much every time someone has been called out that doesn’t fit in that raging asshole category, there’s someone that’s going to say, ‘That’s not real, maybe that’s an infiltrator or provocateur of some kind,’” he said.

“People can’t fathom that someone could both be a nice person in a meeting and hit their girlfriend or sexually assault someone,” said Frank. “For some people, it’s so unbelievable they think it must be a conspiracy.”

P1030867edit-1535581747Julie Henry, center-right, joined the inaugural Wolf Patrol campaign led by Rod Coronado, standing, in September 2014 in Montana. Photo: Courtesy of Julie Henry

Wolf Patrol

In 2014, Henry was searching for something new. Two long-term relationships were ending — with her romantic partner and with her activist community. She’d spent the last two years organizing in Texas with the Tar Sands Blockade, and her experience with the movement was mixed. She cared deeply about the work, but she says she’d also been sexually assaulted while she was there, an allegation some in the Earth First! community later used in an attempt to discredit her as a serial accuser. She didn’t know much about Coronado, but a Facebook post about his latest project, Wolf Patrol, caught Henry’s eye. She signed up.

Henry’s first tour with Wolf Patrol was in Montana in September 2014. A group of about 10 activists hiked mile after mile each day on land adjacent to Yellowstone National Park, monitoring a brief annual wolf hunting season made possible after the gray wolf lost its protection under the Endangered Species Act. Compared with Coronado’s earlier activism, the campaign was low key. The group did not release wolves caught in traps or sabotage the hunt. Instead, they simply monitored hunters’ activities, attempting to capture footage of illegal tactics.

Henry and Coronado grew close over the three-day campaign. “The way we clicked together, we got a lot of work done,” she told The Intercept. It was clear that Coronado wanted a romantic relationship, she said, and he broached the topic at the end of the trip. Henry underlined that past trauma left her uninterested in a physical relationship. She was there to do the wolf work.

While Coronado disputes her account of what happened, Henry says it was during a second campaign the next month in Wisconsin that things got weird. “When I returned, it was almost like he decided I was his property,” she said. He would make decisions for her — what her task for the day would be, which vehicle she would be in (always his). “If I disagreed with him, or went against — then I wasn’t a valuable person anymore.” Henry said Coronado presented shared sleeping quarters with him as a given.

Mariam Rauf, who works with victims of domestic and sexual abuse at Sakhi, an organization focused on ending violence against women, said Henry’s story was familiar. “Abusers can take on manipulative tactics to pull someone in, ‘groom’ them with their charm, and then the situation escalates,” she said. “Controlling behavior might at first have been flattering because of the attention the person was getting from the abuser. Physical abuse doesn’t always happen immediately; the emotional and psychological abuse usually comes first.”

P1040375edit-1535582961A view of the mountainous landscape in Montana as winter set in, during the November 2014 Wolf Patrol campaign. Photo: Courtesy of Julie Henry

Things only got worse when Henry returned to Montana for her third and final campaign. By then it was November, and temperatures regularly dipped below zero.

At night, Henry said, Coronado tested her boundaries. “I would wake up, and he would be touching me,” she said. She felt that her willingness to accept his advances at night correlated directly with how things would go the following day.

“He’s going to treat me like garbage tomorrow if I make him feel bad tonight,” she remembers thinking.

Brett Jarczyk, an activist who was on the trip, witnessed Coronado’s behavior toward Henry. He said one morning he overheard sounds coming from the tent the two shared, just a short distance away. Henry was telling Coronado to stop doing whatever he was doing and sounded “irritated,” says Jarczyk.

Toward the end of the trip, Henry confronted Coronado about the unwanted advances. “You’re making it hard for me to do my job,” she says she told him, to which his response was, “OK, yeah, sure.”

As a blizzard blew toward the park that November, Coronado prepared to head back to his home in Michigan. The night before he left, the group celebrated a campaign Henry didn’t think had accomplished very much. Later that night, Henry says, Coronado assaulted her in a Super 8 Motel room they were sharing with another member of their group who had already fallen asleep.

As they went in, Henry said, she asked Coronado to turn on an air conditioner so they could talk without waking their roommate. She said Coronado was inebriated and wasn’t interested in talking. “He never asked, he never even attempted to use a condom,” Henry told The Intercept. She said she stayed quiet to avoid waking the other person.

Henry recalls that Coronado was in a good mood the next morning before he and most of the group left. “He looked me in the eye and was like, ‘Hey, are we good?’ I said, ‘Sure.’ He kissed me on the forehead and got in the car.”

Henry sat down in the motel lobby, across from another activist, Stephanie. “I told her what happened,” Henry said. “And she was like, ‘Oh hell no, you call him, you make him come back, you need to talk about that.’” Stephanie, who asked that only her first name be used due to the sensitivity of the subject matter, confirmed that Henry told her that morning that Coronado had sexually assaulted her.

Henry called Coronado. “I’m not OK with what happened,” Henry recalls telling him. “He basically was like, ‘I’m not going to talk about this.’”

Matt Almonte, who also stayed behind that morning, remembered Henry was “distraught,” and that she told them about the alleged assault almost immediately. He said they offered to take Henry to a pharmacy to get Plan B, or to a doctor’s office. At one point, Stephanie said, Henry began saying the encounter had in fact been consensual, but she didn’t like that Coronado fell asleep immediately afterward. (Henry denied this characterization.)

That night, Henry says Coronado called and said he was no longer interested in her.

Coronado’s recollections of his relationship with Henry differ significantly. In an interview with The Intercept, he said that when the topic of a romantic relationship between them was broached, he remembers kissing and agreeing that any physical relations would involve a lot of talking. He says he followed through with that and denies that any physical interaction happened without consent. He doesn’t recall any instance of Henry telling him there could be no physical relationship.

“I would preface any intimacy with conscious talking,” Coronado said.

He also denies that he determined where Henry would sleep at night. “I slept in my tent and she chose to sleep with me – there were plenty of tents for everyone, and everyone got to sleep where they wanted to sleep. It was not an issue because we were a couple,” Coronado said.

In Coronado’s version of his last night on the campaign, he asked Henry if she wanted to have sex, and she consented, asking him to turn on the heater to cover any noise. He says they didn’t use protection, but that they had previously talked about the fact that he had had a vasectomy. He remembers Henry approached him in the morning, and she seemed upset. “We need to talk about last night,” she said, according to Coronado. “I think something happened that you don’t remember.”

He says his impression was she was hurt that he didn’t remember having sex. “I started recounting it,” Coronado recalled. “I said, ‘Do you mean when we had sex? Do you mean when I asked you whether it was OK? Do you mean when you asked to turn on the heater to provide white noise?’ She said, ‘OK.’ She started giggling and laughing. I said, ‘I remember everything.’”

When Henry called as he was driving away, Coronado said he does not recall her specifically mentioning the events of the night before, only that she said she needed to talk and that he refused to turn around. And he says he did not call her back the next day to break things off.

The rest of the campaign went poorly for Henry — she didn’t get along well with the other two activists, and Coronado texted her throughout, jokingly calling her “White Noise” – a reference to the air conditioner that was turned on in the hotel room. She appeared to laugh off the nickname, which Coronado sees as evidence their encounter was consensual. “He was trying to keep things sexual,” Henry said when asked about the texts. “There was just no point in trying to fight it.”

Worn down and frustrated with the group dynamic, Henry found herself calling on Coronado to pick her up. Almonte said that when Coronado arrived, he confronted him about Henry’s account. “‘She said you straight-up assaulted her,’” Almonte recalled telling Coronado. “He looked at me very puzzled, said, ‘I have no idea why she would say that.’ I said, ‘I don’t know either, but that’s between you two, and it needs to be addressed.’” (Coronado said he does not recall the conversation.)

She went back with Coronado to his house, where the two shared a bed, and although they did not have intercourse again, she said, his groping resumed. She did not bring up the assault again while they were together. Even after everything that had happened, Henry still hoped to continue on with Wolf Patrol. The group was preparing for another campaign in Wisconsin, and Henry was desperate not to lose another community. But Coronado told her that she would not be invited on the next trip — he blamed the tension between her and the other activists.

Exiled from Wolf Patrol, she left Coronado’s home, planning to tell no one else about the assault. “I was a deep, dark hole,” she recalled.

intercept_spots_final_binoculars-1535583064Illustration: Hokyoung Kim for The Intercept

Attempted Accountability

Unbeknownst to Henry, during the time that she was working with Wolf Patrol, a debate over how to address Coronado’s behavior had already been roiling the radical environmental activist community.

A few months prior to the alleged assault on Henry, Coronado had trashed his ex-wife Chrysta Faye’s home after he saw her with a new boyfriend, emptying garbage, kitty litter, and compost throughout the house.

In February 2015, an activist named Toby Fraser sent out a notice on an email list describing the trashing of Faye’s home and noting that Coronado had violated consent with people he had worked with — a reference to Henry, who was still unsure about sharing her story publicly. “While Rod is more than just these actions, and he has been a huge inspiration for many of us, it is actions like these that people also need to know so they can make an informed choice,” Fraser wrote in his email. “If you have friends in the northern states where Rod is directly working on the wolf hunts please share this with them.”

It was at that point that Henry decided to go public by releasing a statement on an Earth First! email listserv. “My name is Julie Henry,” she wrote, “and I was sexually assaulted by Rod Coronado.”

Henry’s email was forwarded from one activist to another and spread via social media, but it was more than a year before the editors of Earth First! Journal decided to address the issue.

“It is the job of the Journal to post news, analysis, and thought pieces regarding defense of the earth, of other species, and of the wild,” wrote one activist in a thread of emails debating whether to cover Henry’s accusations. “It could make a difficult situation much worse, but bottom line is it is not the Journal’s job.”

Eventually, the journal published an interview with Henry by Kiera Loki Anderson, a writer and longtime environmental activist, who is writing their doctoral dissertation on sexual assault within the environmental movement.

The Earth First! community quickly took sides. The reaction of some movement leaders was shaped by the years of persecution they’d faced from law enforcement. Henry was framed as a potential informant, at worst, and, at best, a security risk who could hurt the movement. Some of the doubters claimed that Henry was unstable or questioned her credibility because she’d accused others of assault in the past.

The official Wolf Patrol Facebook page called Henry a “fraud and a liar.” Coronado wrote on Facebook that he wouldn’t “engage with dysfunctional activists or my lying and cheating ex-wife who use FBI-style smear tactics.” He threatened to sue the Journal, arguing he’d had no opportunity to give his side of the story.

Just over a month after the interview with Henry was published, a site called It’s Going Down published an interview with a lawyer named Lauren Regan by an activist named Lilia who was on Henry’s final Wolf Patrol campaign. The post was titled “Informants and Information,” and was illustrated with large photos of former activists who had taken deals and testified against other activists. “Green Scare Snitches” read a large label on each photo.

“A huge issue though is the extent that activists are making the government and private spy’s jobs so easy by using facecrack or email to put the most dirty laundry of movement participants out into these public domains. They are basically giving them clear road maps of where vulnerable targets for government repression might be located, or who might be more likely to be a snitch or an infiltrator,” Regan said. “For me personally whenever I see some of that stuff happening I am really suspicious of the sources of it.” (Regan said she wasn’t responding to a specific incident.)

But for all those who questioned Henry, there were at least as many who supported her.

“People that have been persecuted by the state are martyrized and lionized in ways that survivors aren’t,” Anderson told The Intercept. “The way the movement takes more seriously state repression versus political violence against women allows people like Rod — not to milk it, but to use it as a shield.”

An editor at the Earth First! Journal who calls himself Rabbit recalled how split the reaction was. “I’d get off the phone with one person who was super pissed that we hadn’t immediately published a thing showing solidarity with Julie like the next day,” he said. “And the phone rings when I’m done with that, and someone’s super pissed we haven’t put out a condemnation of Julie for doing this because Rod would never do this.”

“Rod Coronado went from a hero and an idol and member of the Earth First! community, to a person who is not welcome at all,” Rabbit said. “If Rod showed up to an Earth First! rendezvous or organizers conference, I don’t care who is hosting it, I guarantee you he’d be thrown out immediately.”

Coronado told The Intercept that the last time he’d attempted to attend a radical environmentalist gathering — of forest defenders in Eugene, Oregon — the lug nuts were removed from his tires.

For her part, Faye has struggled with what accountability and justice should mean for Coronado, her ex-husband. “I believe Julie and I support Julie,” she said in an interview. She too had a difficult relationship with the activist.

Faye was married to Coronado throughout the Green Scare, when he was in and out of prison. Their relationship was marked by nearly constant surveillance, which, combined with the intoxicating effects of Coronado’s hero status, resulted in years of dysfunction and finally separation by 2014.

“We had our telephone monitored. We had our computers monitored. We were being surveilled by the FBI. They knew where I was at times that seemed totally irrelevant. It does something to your psyche, it truly does,” Faye said. “I think if we would have just been a normal, going to work, doing the 9-to-5, raising kids, things could have been really different, but the amount trauma that his being an activist brought into our lives had devastating effects.”

Coronado confirmed in an interview that some of the problems in his marriage to Faye had centered around sex and consent. “Me touching her in bed when she was asleep, that was one of the many dysfunctional things I did,” he said. He said that the behavior took place in the context of a relationship in which both parties were behaving in ways that hurt the other deeply. “There was inappropriate things that I did, that she spoke to me about, and I definitely acknowledge that.”

Faye found a way to heal her relationship with Coronado — something she felt was necessary given how intertwined their lives were. She believes deeply in the power of transformative justice, which aims to address conflict and violence outside the criminal justice system. “It’s super complicated, but it has to come from a compassionate view versus a punitive view, and it’s scary — it’s scary because it’s new for all of us. It’s a new system for all of us to be considering not exiling the perpetrator.

Read more from The Intercept article click here.

Woman are Now Taking on Prime leadership Roles in the Cause of Wolf & Wildlife Advocacy…

…the success of the wolf pack depends on the strength of the alpha female.

I’ve chosen Betsy Klein for my first Woman in Wolf Advocacy Series of Interviews. I’ve known Klein for four years and have had the distinct pleasure of watching her grow into her role as a wolf and wildlife advocate. In that brief time she’s co-founded an organization, Plan B To Save Wolves, who’s mission is to assist wolf organizations in achieving their goals. Klein also co-organized the successful event Sedona Wolf Week 2017 & 2018.

About Betsy Klein

Betsy Klein is co-founder of Plan B to Save Wolves, the annual event Sedona Wolf Week and founder of I Am Wolf Nation™. She started working with a wolf rescue in 2014 at a sanctuary in California and upon moving to Sedona, formed her own nonprofit to help educate people about wolves while driving awareness of their plight in addition to saving wolves and wolf dogs in need of rescue and care. She has recently joined the HSUS as a District Leader, joined the HSUS Wildlife Team of Arizona and is working to become a lobbyist for wolves and wildlife.

For over 20 years Betsy has collaborated with many nonprofits beginning with her position as Marketing Chair on the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Board of Directors in the mid 90s. Her nonprofit experience is diverse and has included Board, staff and volunteer positions with an emphasis on her development, marketing and leadership skills. Currently Betsy lives in Sedona, Arizona with her husband Timon, two cats and two wolfdogs, all rescues. When she is not working on her wolf projects, she is managing her own company The SmartGal Marketing Services.

Woman in Wolf Advocacy Series Interview of Betsy Klein

Tell us about a particular experience in your childhood that inspired the advocacy work you do today.

To be honest there isn’t an incident from my childhood that led me to this path of animal advocacy and specifically to wolves. In fact I grew up in a very rural area where we raised our beef and pigs for our family’s consumption, as well as chickens for their eggs, and the men in the family hunted during deer season. My neighbors owned the local slaughterhouse, and it was not unusual to see dogs and cats outside, never inside, at most of the surrounding homes and farms.

I think the turning point came much later in life when I connected to my inner spirit. When I refer to inner spirit I am referring to the understanding that we are all connected, including people and animals. I began to understand that because of this connection, what we do to animals we are essentially doing to ourselves. Hence our tagline “When we save wolves, we save ourselves” because wolves are especially connected to humans through culture, history, the ecosystem, our food and more.

I know that you were a volunteer for Wolf Connection. When did you start volunteering there and why?

When I lived in Sedona, Arizona in 2013 I went to the Medicine Wheel Lodge in Rimrock and met Healing Wolf and her wolves. I had begun following the plight of the wolf prior to that visit, and having that personal interaction with them solidified for me; that I was going to do all that I could to help these magnificent creatures. I had no idea at the time what that would be other than signing a lot of petitions and writing letters.

In the photograph: Timon Pratt and Betsy Klein husband and wife co-founders of Plan B Foundation

At the end of 2014 I moved back to LA and in my job search came across someone, who upon learning my passion for wolves, mentioned he was on the Board of Directors for Wolf Connection. He’s suggested I consider volunteering there. I immediately signed up, and the volunteer process is quite rigorous, as they work with you to gauge your commitment; in addition to learning about wolves. When I first started I washed a lot dishes and raked. I didn’t even get to pick up wolf poop for my first three months as that required going into their enclosures, and you had to go through a process first in order to be able to do that. I was so excited the day I learned I was eligible to now pick up wolf poop. Kind of funny when you think about it. 😉

I learned a lot at Wolf Connection, and it truly gave me my start to where I am today. I learned so much about wolves, wolf dogs and myself. We did a lot of programs at Wolf Connection and it is such pure joy to watch people experience wolves for the first time because it is in that moment they realize wolves are not the demons of fairy tales. But are rather magnificent animals that are essential and must be saved. If I could bottle that moment, and give it to everyone, I absolutely would.

“When we save wolves, we save ourselves” ~Betsy Klein

I will always be thankful for Wolf Connection, and that is where I met Paula Ficara and Steve Wastell who are the co-founders of Apex Protection Project . Our friendship has flourished and together we have made such an impact with the creation of Sedona Wolf Week and most recently I AM Wolf Nation. Paula and Steve are as close to Timon and I as anyone can get with what we have experienced together in this shared passion; to save wolves and wolf dogs. I sincerely could not imagine my life without them.

Why wolves? What about the Gray wolf inspired you to work to protect him?

The gray wolf is iconic and represents so much. Yet modern man has been on this campaign to eradicate them from the planet. How did the original man’s best friend become the perceived worse enemy? Why is there so much fear and complete lack of science and logic when it comes to dealing with wolves? My inspiration came from this injustice, and I knew I had to become a voice for them. To do what I could to try and penetrate the misperceptions, to remove the fear and loathing based on fairy tales. Just knowing if I could just impact one person, they in turn could impact another, and so on. I cannot and will not a world without wolves.

I have known you for a couple years now. I’ve watched you grow into your advocacy work; starting with being a Wolf Connection volunteer, then creating your own organization called Plan B To Save Wolves. At Sedona Wolf Week 2018 you talked about how you came up with the name for Plan B. Can you tell us that story?

When I moved back to Sedona, Arizona at the end of 2015, I knew I wanted to do something to help wolves, and wolf dog. But I just wasn’t sure what that would be. Timon was very supportive, we knew we didn’t want to start a sanctuary, but rather create something that would be helpful to many. A quick side note, I should mention Timon calls me “B” and I call him “T” as our nicknames for each other. With that said he would frequently say to me “What’s the plan B?” within our daily lives.

One day at lunch I was pitching to Timon the idea of creating an organization that helped other non profits that specifically supported wolves and wolf dogs with marketing, development/fundraising and board development. You see I have many years experience in this area, and I know a lot of smaller organizations cannot either afford full time staff or consultants. I would of course offer this for free to those groups.

As usual I was hesitating because I didn’t know if it was a good idea, if anyone would be interested or how to get started. A bit ironic given what I do for a living, but when it comes to yourself, and your personal journey, sometimes it is hard to put that focus on yourself.

So during my back and forth, wondering out loud if it was a good idea, and what we would even call the organization, Timon pulled out his phone and called up a file on his screen and showed it to me. It was a logo he had already created with the name Plan B. “You are their Plan B.” he said, “Everyone needs a Plan B.”

So obviously I started to cry because of his overwhelming love and support of my intentions that really gave me that final nudge to move forward by creating the name and logo. Officially we are Plan B Foundation, Inc., with the dba Plan B to Save Wolves. And pretty much daily Timon will say to me “What’s the plan B?”

Another interesting element to this story is when I first arrived in Sedona, I started working part time at the Humane Society of Sedona. The Executive Director at the time was Birgitte Silver and everyone just called her “B”. When she first interviewed me she reviewed my resume and said simply “I cannot afford you.” My reply? I didn’t mind I just wanted to work with animals, and so I started the following week. Life in rescue is tough and sometimes you have to make decisions that no one else ever wants to make. B gave her life to the humane society and I highly respected her. Unfortunately she passed unexpectedly one night in December 2012, but she is someone I will always honor.

You’ve organized an event for wolves called Sedona Wolf Week. When and why did you create this event? When is the next Sedona Wolf Week 2019?

So just thinking about the answer to this question brings a few tears of joy to my eyes. Such a journey! It all started unofficially in 2016 when I asked Patrick Schweiss, the Executive Director of the Sedona International Film Festival to take a look at the film Medicine of the Wolf, and consider it for the festival, which he did. However he did not put it in the festival but rather scheduled it for two showings before Earth Day giving it the attention it warranted.

At this time Paula, Steve, Timon and I had been talking back and forth about various things we could do together and so we came up with the idea of them coming to Sedona with the pack, and they could do a Q&A after each film so the audience could see a wolfdog up close and personal. And from there it just grew! We booked school presentations, decided to host a fundraising party at our home, and executed a raffle where the highest bidder could win a private hike with the pack.

Needless to say the four days were whirlwind, and exceeded all expectations. In fact the first two showings of the film sold out so Patrick called and asked if we could add a third, and we said yes. That sold out in 40 minutes. So he called and asked if we could add another showing and we did which also sold out with a waiting list. Patrick has since told me this is the first and only time this has happened in the history of the festival.

At the end of it all we were all sitting outside at Poco Diablo Resort restaurant, nine of us, plus four wolf dogs all completely exhausted eating, and drinking while we relived the last few days. It was at that point Kristen Lee, Lee Wastell’s (brother to Steve) girlfriend said “you guys should do this every year and call it Sedona Wolf Week.”

That is literally how the idea came into being.

Sedona Wolf Week 2017 we planned in about five months, 2018 we began as soon as the 2017 event was over, and we are in midst of planning 2019 which will take place March 25th through the 30th.

The reason for the tears of joy I mentioned? Because we have met and connected with so many people who have become lifelong friends and supporters. Because we watch children interact with a wolf dog, an experience so few ever will have, and know their lives are changed forever. Because people we consider our heroes come and tell us we are theirs because of our efforts to save wolves. Because I do this event with the three best people in the world. There is just so much love in Sedona Wolf Week.

Has working in wolf advocacy changed you? In what way or ways has it changed you?

I would say first and foremost I have a lot more discernment with everything. There is a lot of information out there, and you have to do your homework; your own research to be sure what you say is as accurate as it can be. I feel I have to be in integrity to the best of my ability when it comes to being a voice for wolves as anything I get “wrong” can become a negative reflection on all wolf advocates and wolves themselves.

It has also greatly impacted how I live my life. For me I cannot advocate for wolves, the great balancers of the ecosystem and nature, and not take personal steps to be in balance with our environment, and planet. I have since switched to a plant based diet, I buy only cruelty free products, I no longer purchase leather or even fake fur, and my mantra each day, when I rise; is to do as little harm as possible to where I live which is where I coexist with wolves, and all the other animal beings. I have to say that isn’t easy as so much is made from animals, but I do my best. I’d also like to reiterate this is a personal choice for me. I know many wonderful and amazing wolf advocates who do none or some of those things.

I have also become very aware of so many things I never knew existed including what the department of Wildlife Services really does, that killing contests, and derbies exist, trophy hunting and trapping to name a few. My eyes have been opened.

Speaking out against those atrocities is now my number one priority. I feel as though I have finally found my voice in wolf advocacy and fully plan on using it. In addition to Sedona Wolf Week, this year I will be speaking, along with Paula, at the 2018 International Wolf Symposium. I have also begun lobbying, starting in Phoenix earlier this year and will be going to Washington DC to lobby at our nation’s capital. Additionally I joined the HSUS AZ Wildlife Team and will be attending a conference in August to learn how to create legislation that protects wildlife.

I truly believe these acts, these “events”, these barbaric practices are unacceptable and should be abolished, that if humanity really knew about them, they would no longer exist. That is now my passion and mission.

What’s the hardest part about working to protect wolves? What or who helps you get through the “hard parts” and gives you hope to continue this work?

In terms of the mission of Plan B, Sedona Wolf Week and I AM WOLF NATION™ the hardest part is finding the balance between sharing what is really happening to wolves and wildlife (the bad stuff) with the good stories, and happy endings. Unfortunately we could post and email daily something heinous that is happening to wolves that needs public attention, and response. With that comes compassion fatigue, and pretty soon people won’t take action because they won’t even open the email from us. It gets tedious, and I absolutely understand that.

Unfortunately the more brutal images are what inspires and motivates people to take action. We ran a Facebook ad of a beautiful wolf asking people to sign a petition against trapping with very little response. When we ran the ad showing a wolf caught in a trap and a man laughing with a gun getting ready to kill it; the response was overwhelming. I get criticized for showing those images from time to time, but until it affects someone personally, affects them deeply, and personally, they will not act. It is that simple.

For me personally to say it is challenging sometimes to manage the overwhelming sense of helplessness, and frustration is an understatement. Thankfully I can just cry on Timon’s shoulder which I have done numerous times. I journal. I hike almost every morning with Timon and our two rescued wolf dogs among the gorgeous red rocks of Sedona and just try to be grateful for what has been done, what is being done and what we plan on doing to help make this a better world for wolves.

The important thing is to feel the grief, or the anger, then release it. You cannot let it take you over, and you cannot try to tuck it away.

If you could snap your fingers and cause immediate change; what would that change look like?

That there no longer is duality between animals and people. What I mean by that is that human “beings” recognize the “being” in animals and that we are essentially all beings deserving of love, respect and freedom. With that realization, the senseless need to trophy hunt, exterminate, trap, abuse and more are no longer even in our thought process. They are inconceivable.

We recently updated our mission statement to reflect this desired change we want to create and will be announcing our new vision and updating all of our content accordingly very soon.

About the photograph: Best Congressional meeting ever! Thanks to the staffers in Rep. David Schweikert’s office for sharing their two giant office dogs with us! Taking Action For Animals Conference 2018. Betsy Klein

Tell us about plan B To Save Wolves: what’s the latest news, and what are you working on now?

Such a great question, and very relevant as the team convened last week to discuss the overall strategic direction of Plan B to Save Wolves and I AM WOLF NATION™. Key initiatives for Plan B is an update on the branding, mission statement and initiatives for the organization. What we thought we would be doing 18 months ago when we started is so far from where we actually are as an organization, and I mean that in a great way! Plan B has made such an impact that we need to accelerate our thinking, and refocus our strategy to continue to be effective in making a difference. Expect more in terms of education, and outreach in the form of events including Sedona Wolf Week, speaking engagements, and fundraisers. I am very excited to announce I, along with Paula Ficara of Apex Protection Project, will be speaking at the 2018 International Wolf Symposium, and I hope that is just one of many to come.

Plus we will continue our every day rescue efforts where we fund what we can to help save lives. Most recently we have found ourselves the champions of mislabeled “wolf dogs”, dogs who have been labeled a wolf dog, their fate would have been euthanization if not for Plan B stepping in. Our plan is to reach out to local shelters, and animal control officers for some training in phenotyping to minimize the risk of any dog being euthanized because it has been mislabeled.

For I AM WOLF NATION™ expect to see more lobbying, and focus on major strategic initiatives; such as ending killing contests starting here in our home state of Arizona.

Do you have anything else you would like to tell us?

I hosted a dinner party once, and after talking about wolves one of my guests said to me “I hope you don’t expect me to care about wolves as much as you do.” I responded, “Absolutely not, but I do expect you to care about something. There are many causes that need champions and it is our responsibility to be of service in some way that makes this a better world for all.”

Find that cause that moves you and be their champion. Be a catalyst for transforming humanity.

For more about Betsy Klein’s work go to www.planb.foundation

Get involved Be the Voice for America’s Gray Wolf…

…Action Alert. Contact your representatives in the U. S. Senate today. Major anti wolf legislation is now being proposed in the U. S. Senate. Just recently in the House version of the defense bill that could weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act; Another provision in the bill that Republicans want to include would delist gray wolves found near the Great Lakes and Wyoming, while another amendment would block ESA protections for all gray wolves in the continental U.S.

The Senate is considering a ‘sweeping attack’ on the Endangered Species Act, environmental groups say. The bill’s author, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), is holding a hearing now. The legislation would empower governors to veto some of the current protections for imperiled species, and limit the ability of citizens to file lawsuits to protect threatened plants and animals. [read more]

Wait there’s potentially another anti-wolf bill, a version of a bill that passed the House of Representatives a month’s ago could be on its way in the U. S. Senate. On June 6, 2018 The U. S. House of Representatives passed a Bill: Making appropriations for the Department of the Interior, environment, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019, and for other purposes.

The bill contains language for delisting of Gray wolves in the lower 48 states:

…the Secretary of the Interior shall issue a rule to remove the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in each of the 48 contiguous States of the United States and the District of Columbia from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife [read more]

The majority in power is clearly trying to rewrite the Endangered Species Act in favor of big monied special interests that want the land (animal’s land it protects) would place endangered species in even more danger of extinction. Please be the voice for the Gray wolf. #ExtinctionIsForever

Here’s what you can do…

You can help stop this threat to the Endangered Species Act by contacting your senator. Click here for their contact information.

Here’s another way you can help. Writing an Effective Letter to the Editor (LTE), Writing a letter to the editor of your local or regional newspaper is the best way to reach a large audience with your message. Click here for more information on how to get involved.

Featured image credit: NPS

Will the Government Ever Get it Right on Delisting the Gray Wolf in the Great Lakes Region?

These and other questions come to mind as the Federal Government Working On Removing Gray Wolf From Endangered Species List . Will Wisconsin be transparent in its management of the Gray wolf population, and once again allow for greater pubic input as it did prior to the 2012 USF&WS delisting decision.

In 2011 WISCONSIN ACT 169 legislation mandated a trophy hunt on the newly delisted Gray wolf. Wisconsin Act 169 allowed reckless management policies such as; Out of all the states that hunt wolves, only Wisconsin allows hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves.” Wolf Hounding Fact Sheet

In 2013 & 2014 Wisconsin sanctioned the use of dogs to hunt wolves.

This reckless management of the Gray wolf was overturned as part of Humane Society of the United States lawsuit of USF&WS’s 2012 delisting. In December 2014 a federal judge put Gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes Region back on the Endangered Species List. USF&WS appealed the 2014 ruling, but the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled Gray wolves in the Great Lakes region should remain on the endangered species list, July 2017.

Besides the horrific wolf management policies by the state of Wisconsin, problems exist within the way USF&WS determines criteria for wolf delisting in the Great Lakes Region in 2011. It’s seems USF&WS got its “hand slapped” by a judges ruling for trying to delist using the following:

“The proposal identifies the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of wolves, which includes a core area of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as parts of adjacent states that are within the range of wolves dispersing from the core recovery area.” USF&WS Press Release 2011

But then, on July 2017, the three-judge panel unanimously said the wolves should stay under federal protection. The judges wrote, “The Endangered Species Act’s text requires the Service, when reviewing and redetermining the status of a species, to look at the whole picture of the listed species, not just a segment of it.”

As the Associated Press reports the judges ruled that,

“The service had not adequately considered a number of factors in making its decision, including loss of the wolf’s historical range and how its removal from the endangered list would affect the predator’s recovery in other areas, such as New England, North Dakota and South Dakota.”

Just how reckless is Wisconsin in its management policies of the Gray wolf?

If the Gray wolf in Wisconsin gets delisted tomorrow; it’s a law that a wolf hunt must take place:

“If the wolf is not listed on the federal endangered list and is not listed on the state endangered list, the department shall allow the hunting and trapping of wolves and shall regulate such hunting and trapping as provided in this section and shall implement a wolf management plan. In regulating wolf hunting and trapping, the department may limit the number of wolf hunters and trappers and the number of wolves that may be taken by issuing wolf harvesting licenses.” 2012 Wisconsin Act 169

A brief history on Wisconsin’s reckless management of it’s wolf population, 2012 through 2014.

Wisconsin’s Wolf Advisory Committee is not far and balanced. In other words, there is no transparency in WI DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp’s Wolf management process (WDNR secretary at the time).

WDNR Wolf Advisory Committee met once a month during the legislatively mandated trophy hunt on Wisconsin’s Gray wolf. The WAC recommend how wolf management in Wisconsin should be done. Here is a list of Cathy Stepp’s (WDNR secretary at the time) hand Picked WAC, that she thinks better suited to, “…people who were willing to work with us in partnership…”:United States Fish & Wildlife Service(USFWS), United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services(USDA WS), Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission(GLIFWC), Wisconsin County Forest Association(WCFA), Wisconsin Conservation Congress(WCC), Safari Club International(SCI), Timber Wolf Alliance(TWA), Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association(WBHA), Wisconsin Bowhunters Association(WBA), Wisconsin Cattlemans Association(WCA), Wisconsin Trappers Association(WTA), Wisconsin Wildlife Federation(WWF) and 10 WDNR biologists. WODCW blog

Several DNR staff are on the recently created Wolf Advisory Committee, as are representatives of several pro-hunting groups. A smaller number of wolf hunting skeptics also remain on the committee, including a representative of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.  WPR reporter Chuck Quirmbach June 2014 

At a WI DNR meeting secretary Cathy Stepp admitted, “When we’re charged to manage and to implement a hunt, coming in and telling us, ‘Don’t hunt wolves,’ is not a productive way to run a committee, frankly,” said Stepp. “That’s just the candid way to lay it out. We had to have people who were willing to work with us in partnership, and be willing to help us and advise us along the way in implementing state law.” Source WPR June 2014

I was was interviewed on June 2014 regarding DNR secretary kicking off wolf hunt opponents Rachel Tilseth of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin was a volunteer DNR tracker of wolves for about a dozen winters, and attended a few meetings of what used to be called the Wisconsin Wolf Stakeholders Group. Tilseth testified about the wolf hunt proposal during Wednesday’s meeting. She later said she didn’t care for Stepp’s remarks.

“I was just appalled that somebody like Cathy Stepp, who’s in charge of this important issue, is saying something like that,” said Tilseth. “It sounds to me like it’s a committee that they want made up of wolf-killers.”

Recap of the last two years in the never-ending political rhetoric designed to stir public sentiment against an endangered species.

Wisconsin’s annual nine-day gun deer hunt sees increase in statewide buck harvest 2016. The largest change in buck harvest occurred in the Northern Forest Zone (30 percent increase from 2015) after two consecutive mild winters and limited antlerless tags. From WI DNR Press Release 

The increase in buck harvest is hopeful news, because fringe hunters, along with some politicians are claiming that wolves are killing all the deer. This news puts a damper on republican Senator Tom Tiffany’s efforts to delist the wolf.

“A Great Lakes Summit in September 2016, was organized by two Republican lawmakers from northern Wisconsin, Sen. Tom Tiffany and Rep. Adam Jarchow, who hope control of the wolf population returns to state governments.” MPR News

The 30 percent buck increase in the Northern Forest Zone (where the wolf lives) is good news as DNR’s own scientific data is proving wolves aren’t eating all the white-tailed deer in northern Wisconsin.

Yet, certain politicians in Wisconsin refuse to believe scientific fact.

As with any cause, a biased or misleading view can be used to promote, to publicize a particular political cause or point of view.  Here we have several anti-wolf politicians making claims to distort the public’ veiw of wolves; wolves are decimating the White-tailed deer herds, attacking livestock and killing hunting dogs.  Let’s set the record straight; wolves do hunt White-tailed deer, have killed some some livestock and did kill 37 bear hunting dogs.  But in reality; is there a big-bad-wolf here? Let’s get the facts before we sanction the killing of an endangered species.

Are wolves killing more livestock?

Let’s take some statistics from The Wisconsin Gray Wolf Monitoring Report for the period of 15 APRIL 2015 THROUGH 14 APRIL 2016 and read the graphic for yourself. There were 52 wolf depredations on livestock.

There were 52 wolf depredations from April 15, 2015 through April 15, 2016. To put it in perspective, that was 52 livestock deaths by wolves out of 3.50 million head of livestock in Wisconsin. Read for yourself:

“The total inventory of cattle and calves on January 1 rose 3 percent from 2014 to 2015, to 3.50 million head. The number of milk cows rose by 5,000 head to 1,275,000 head and the number of beef cows rose 25,000 head to 275,000 head. On the U.S. level, slaughter prices rose to $153.00 per cwt. for cattle and $255.00 per cwt. for calves. As a result, Wisconsin’s value of production rose 33 percent to $1.92 billion.”  Source: USDA Wisconsin statistics

Wisconsin’s wild wolf is the most talked about animal of late.  Politicians in Wisconsin have villianized the wolf, and are pushing to delist him.  It’s no secret that one cannot trust politicians. Politicians are in competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership; they’ve created propaganda to make the wolf look bad.

Politicians have removed science from wolf management and replaced it with political rhetoric. They put together a Wisconsin Wolf Advisory Committee with stakeholders primarily from the hunting community.

The WAC is heavily slanted towards recreational trophy hunting of wolves with 9 citizen pro wolf hunting organizations to 1 pro wolf citizen organization. Further, according to Cathy Stepp this committee is more productive than opponents of the wolf hunt. There is evidence to the contrary that shows the WAC productiveness is comparable to reality TV’s Housewives of NYC.  From WODCW’s Blog

In conclusion, if USF&WS, the government, gets it right this time in delisting the Gray wolf in the Great Lakes Region Wisconsin citizens must push for greater transparency in wolf management. Because trophy hunts are about power not conservation. We owe the Gray wolf, that was exterminated from our forest, an ethical & compassionate conservation management plan, because we have done enough harm to this iconic predator.

Urgent Action Required to Protect Wolves in the Great Lakes Region

The Farm Bill (H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018), scheduled to be brought to the House floor next week that has amendments to delist wolves in the Great Lakes region. Amendment number 85:

Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA) submitted an amendment to remove ESA protections for gray wolves across the continental United States. This would not only place gray wolves in peril, but also undermine the ESA by taking away the decision-making power from scientists, as the law mandates, giving it instead to partisan members of Congress. This amendment also blocks judicial review, meaning that citizens can’t challenge the delisting in court. Shielding agency actions from review by independent federal courts violates citizens’ rights under the ESA and is simply undemocratic. Animal Welfare Institute

Contact your members in Congress clicking on this easy form democracy.io click here to write them.

The Intent Upon Killing Wolves for Trophy on Public Lands is Exploitation

The War On Wolves Continues. Wolf advocates we must make our voices heard. By Alex Krevitz, M.A. Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Science Editor

In recent years state and federal natural resource agencies have targeted grey wolves Canis lupus, for elimination.  Scientific organizations and reputable non governmental wildlife organizations have had their peer reviewed scientific research eschewed by policy makers.   Individual scientists have had aspersions cast upon their professional legitimacy for questioning wolf management policies.

The purveyors of the anti wolf misinformation have been affiliated with groups associated with extractive industries, agricultural interests and trophy hunting. Their goal has been a mission to depict wolves as wanton killers of deer and livestock. Their interests have been served by legislators whose campaigns they have funded.  Cases before the Supreme Court of the U.S. such as Citizens United and Montana Copper Kings have infused those who seek to exploit public land for private gain often at the expense of wildlife with a source of revenue with which to influence policy makers.  Fortunately, the judiciary on several occasions have restored protections to wolves. Justices have characterized the fervent and scientifically unfounded war on wolves as “arbitrary” and “irresponsible.”

Historically, over decades, Americans, in polls and on ballot initiatives,  have expressed strong support for banning wolf hunting and protecting public lands. Surreptitious attempts by extractive industries and ranchers to devastate these lands for personal gain have met with massive and vocal public opposition and some plans have been stopped or delayed.

Miraculously, persistent communications to legislators by wolf advocates resulted in the species continued protection. Numerous NGOs and grass roots activists update each other and the public on legislative maneuvers and upcoming votes. Countering large well funded and experienced entities determined to remove wolves from Endangered Species protections is an ongoing task. Certain members of Congress with hitherto positive environmental records have capitulated to their well funded cohorts with opposing agendas.

The current Interior Secretary has elevated the trophy hunting and mineral extraction as top priorities of his department. He has faced skepticism and criticism from scientists, the conservation community and the public. Naturalists at all levels  have been appalled by this single minded focus on transforming the Interior Department into  a safe haven for those intent upon killing trophy animals and exploiting natural resources on public lands as  primary objectives.

Once a species had been extirpated there is no return. The cumulative effects of killing, border walls and habitat destruction is terminal.

So the fight goes on to advocate for our wildlife who cannot protest in their own right.  To protect our sacrosanct and irreplaceable natural resources; It is imperative that severe exploitation actions be publicized, and that those who advocate for these destruction be held accountable.

We must  make our voices heard as individuals through the media, petitions, at public meetings, using our informed communications networks to rally support. We must all vote. America’s natural resources, including wolves, were protected in the past due to public support.  It is incumbent upon all of us to provide that same support for wildlife and wildlands now.

Alex Krevitz,  M.A.

Science Editor

“The Yellowstone Story-Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy” film project…

A Documentary film project that tells the stories of people working to preserve the legacy of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film. Co Produced by Rachel Tilseth And Maaike Middleton and Directed by Rachel Tilseth. Donate Here to support this film project

About the featured photograph we see Wolf #7 in shipping container in Rose Creek pen. Photograph credit NPS Jim Peaco, January 12, 1995 from public domain YNP Wolf Restoration.

Rick Lamplugh

The shooting of 06, Yellowstone’s famous alpha wolf, was a turning point for me. In the years since her death, I have come to understand how that single bullet did more than kill the alpha female and uproot the alpha male. That bullet threw the delicate social order of the pack into life-threatening disarray. That bullet forced many wolves to choose new leaders, new roles, new lives. That bullet led to my becoming a wolf advocate. And I know I’m not alone; others have told me how the death of 06 motivated them to fight for wolves. ~Rick Lamplugh, Wolf Advocate and renowned author.

Rick Lamplugh’s path to advocating for wolves.
A few years ago, (2012) my wife Mary and I spent our first full winter living and working at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch in the heart of Yellowstone’s wolf country. We were thrilled to see wolves almost every day. Our second winter, sadly, was much quieter than the first. The valley did not resound with the howls of wolves. We did not see the Lamar Canyon wolves resting on the hillside above the ranch. Instead, we felt the shock and sadness of watching the pack disintegrate after the female alpha and one of the adult males was shot outside the park in Wyoming. Observing firsthand the destructive impact of hunting on wolves we had come to know and respect, started me thinking about advocating for wolves.

My experiences and learning during those three winters became the basis for a book, In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter’s Immersion in Wild Yellowstone. As the book became an Amazon best seller, I grew certain of the debt I owed wolves. If I was going to benefit from writing about them, I must speak for them as well. I became a wolf advocate.

Eventually Mary and I heeded the pull of Yellowstone, left Oregon where we had lived for 36 years, and moved to Gardiner, Montana, at the park’s north entrance. We have been surprised to learn that Gardiner sits smack in the middle of a number of controversies: the dispute over hunting Yellowstone wolves outside the park; the debate whether wolves help or harm the ecosystem and the local economy; the concern about overuse of and development around the park; the community effort to stop a possible gold mine on the park’s border; the outrage over the plan to remove grizzlies from the endangered species list; and the battle to stop the slaughter of park bison.

While living at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch—a wildlife-filled bubble where animals roamed without fear of human intervention—I had stayed blissfully unaware of most of these controversies. But I cannot avoid them in Gardiner, nor do I want to. Instead, I immerse myself in the midst of these struggles. I’ve become an advocate for wildlife and wildlands.

Indie author Rick Lamplugh writes to protect wildlife and preserve wild lands. His new book, Deep into Yellowstone, is available signed from Rick at http://bit.ly/2tIEt62, or unsigned on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2tgPU3E.

His best seller, In the Temple of Wolves, is available signed at http://bit.ly/1gYghB4, or unsigned at http://amzn.to/Jpea9Q.

A signed set of both books is available with free shipping at http://bit.ly/2uYTtsU.

“Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy-The Yellowstone Story” A Documentary film project that tells the stories of people working to preserve the legacy of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film. Co Produced by Rachel Tilseth And Maaike Middleton and Directed by Rachel Tilseth.

To support the film project go to Plan B Foundation ” Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy” and donate

Good apples make it worthwhile…

Merriam-Webster defines activist as: a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of, or opposition to one side of a controversial issue political activism, environmental activism.  My first action as an activist took place in 1971 on Earth Day. I set up a booth on the University of Eau Claire campus.  It’s been a protest, a sit in at a mining camp, to present day working to stop wolf hunting.  I’ve met some extraordinary activists along the way.  They’ve taught me more about how to be an activist. You see, they’ve led with their hearts born out of passion, for a cause they truely care about.

I have hope in people, in individuals. Because you don’t know what’s going to rise from the ruins.  ~Joan Baez

Then, there’s the learning curve (ouch). Just because you care doesn’t mean everyone will be a possitive role model in activism. I experienced the dark side of activism where the bottom lies.  If you let anyone put you down, they are not acting in your best interest; instead they’ve come from an unbalanced & sad place.  They are the ones still seeking balance in their lives and they are in pain.  The lyrics from the song “Let it Be” says it best:

And when the broken hearted people, Living in the world agree, There will be an answer, let it be, For though they may be parted, There is still a chance that they will see,  There will be an answer, let it be

Experiences such as; being lied to, being used and having my character assassinated by angry & unbalanced activists can take a toll. But it never led me to throw in the towel.  Why? Because for every bad experience there have been many good ones that make it worthwhile.  The following adage rings true; don’t let one bad apple spoil the whole bunch. 

Every activist experiences conflicts within their cause, in their advocacy community, and learns how to cope with upsets.

I’ve learned that bad experiences do make you strong.  Today I don’t waste my precious time on the few bad apples, instead I spend my time nurturing the good apples.

Hopefully the bad apples will find their balance. And I’m grateful for the learning experience. 

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