AMERICAN WOLF: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West…

…Is excellent reading material while you’re on a #StayAtHome order! Publisher-Crown and was released October 17th, 2017. And there’s plenty of praise for this reading material.

Select Praise for Nate Blakeslee and American Wolf -A Barnes & Noble Discover Pick

“With American Wolf, Nate Blakeslee gives us a very different sort of biography—the saga of a single female wolf, ‘the most famous wolf in the world,’ and her exploits in Yellowstone National Park. It’s a startlingly intimate portrait of the intricate, loving, human-like interrelationships that govern wolves in the wild, as observed in real time by a cadre of dedicated wolf-watchers—in the end, a drama of lupine love, care, and grief.” —Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake

“Wild, poignant, and compelling, American Wolf is an important, beautifully wrought book about animals, about values, and about living on this earth.” —Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief and Rin Tin Tin

“Gripping and fascinating! Wolf versus wolf, wolf versus man, man versus man.” —Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale and Hag-Seed (via Twitter)

“Beautiful, detailed . . . [American Wolf] centers on the rise, reign, and family life of O-Six, matriarch of the Lamar Canyon pack and so well-known to park visitors that the New York Times gave her an obituary.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Utterly compelling. . . . Blakeslee’s masterly use of fiction writing techniques to ratchet up the tension will hook a wide swath of readers.” —Library Journal (starred review)

Before men ruled the Earth, there were wolves. Once abundant in North America, these majestic creatures were hunted to near extinction by the 1920s. But in recent decades, conservationists have brought wolves back to the Rockies, igniting a battle over the very soul of the West. Award-winning author Nate Blakeslee tells the gripping story of one of these wolves, a charismatic alpha female named O-Six, in his poignant book AMERICAN WOLF: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West (Crown; on sale October 17, 2017).

Days after Crown acquired the book, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions picked up the rights, with Scott Cooper (Black Mass) set to direct.

More than four million people visit Yellowstone each year, and wolves are one of the main attractions. Wolf advocates would like to see them remain on the endangered species list;

O-Six can arguably be called one of the most famous wild animals in our country. She was one of the most visible wolves in Yellowstone at a time when wolf-watching became a common pastime in the park. Beloved by wolf-watchers, particularly Yellowstone park ranger Rick McIntyre and former schoolteacher Laurie Lyman, both featured in the book, O-Six becomes something of a social media star, with followers around the world. But as she raises her pups and protects her pack, O-Six is challenged on all fronts: by hunters and their professional guides; by cattle ranchers who are losing livestock and have the ear of politicians; and by other Yellowstone wolves who challenge her dominance of the stunningly beautiful Lamar Valley in the park’s mountainous Northern Range.

Nate Blakeslee became fascinated with wolves in the winter of 2008, after taking a wolf-watching class in Yellowstone. This is where he saw wolves in the wild for the first time. Drawing on interviews with McIntyre, and Lyman’s extensive wolf-watching diary (over 800,000 words), Blakeslee has re-created the true life story of a wild animal in unprecedented detail.

Fans of Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk, John Vaillant’s The Tiger, Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, and anyone else who loves intimate, true stories of nature, obsession, and survival will be drawn to this riveting multigenerational wolf saga that tells a larger story about the clash of values in the West—and the nation as a whole.

A Conversation with Nate Blakeslee, author of “American Wolf” (Crown; October 17, 2017)

Q) You live with your family in Austin, Texas. How did you come to write American Wolf, a story about Yellowstone?

A) I was born and raised in Texas, but I spent a lot of time in the Northern Rockies when I was in my early twenties, working summer jobs in Jackson, Wyoming, with friends from college. It was one of the happiest times in my life, and I’ve looked for a reason to get back there every summer since. In 2007, I took a wolf-watching class in Yellowstone, where I met Rick McIntyre, the park’s wolf guru. I knew I wanted to write about wolves and the controversy that surrounded them, but wasn’t sure how to do it until I heard the story of O-Six.

Q) American Wolf isn’t just about Yellowstone wolves and their struggles; it’s also about the political fights that invisibly shape these wolves’ lives. Can you describe the forces at play during the events of this book? How have those forces changed since then?

A) Ranchers and hunting guides stood to lose the most if wolves were brought back to the Northern Rockies, and they fought the reintroduction plan for years. Later they lobbied to remove wolves from the endangered species list as quickly as possible, so that their numbers could be reduced through hunting and trapping. Wolves have a powerful constituency, too, which has grown as wolf-watching in Yellowstone has become a key part of the tourist economy in the region. Today wolves are hunted in all three states that surround Yellowstone—Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. Wolves inside Yellowstone National Park are still protected, though most packs roam across the park’s borders, which means Yellowstone wolves are frequently lost to hunting and trapping.

Q) You say in the book that wolves have become deeply polarizing in the West—on par with abortion or gun control or war in the Middle East. Everyone seems to have an opinion. What’s at stake for people when it comes to wolf reintroduction? Why is it such a hotly contested issue? Will we ever reach consensus?

A) Greater Yellowstone is the world’s largest remaining essentially intact temperate ecosystem, but it was not complete until the return of the wolf. We tend to think of wilderness as the opposite of civilization—there is the natural world, and then there is the world we have made for ourselves. But in a place as thoroughly exploited as the American West, wilderness is something that has to be created, too. Decisions about how best to restore a landscape—what to include and what to leave out—are political decisions, and there are always winners and losers just as there are in any other arena of policymaking.

Q) What do people like Steven Turnbull and the other anti-wolf characters in the book reveal about America today? What are their grievances, and how does this shed light on the bigger divisions in our country?

A) The debate over how best to manage wolves is part and parcel of a larger and much older contest—the question of how public land in the West should be used, and who should get to decide. Much of the Northern Rockies, like the West in general, is national forest or other public land, which means that even those of us who don’t live in the area have a say over how it is managed. The rise of the environmental movement in the 1970s threatened the traditional uses of that land—such as logging, mining, and hunting—and that in turn has engendered resentment against the federal government. In many ways it is a cultural division, though the politics at play are more complex than they first appear.

Q) What are your own views on hunting?

A) Central Texas, where I live, is overrun with far too many white-tailed deer—a consequence of aggressive predator control by many generations of ranchers. If it weren’t for the thousands of hunters who visit every fall, the repercussions (disease, starvation, habitat damage) would be much worse. Having said that, I recognize that the “Texas model” of hunting—shooting deer from a blind as they feed on corn you have put out for them, or paying big money to hunt selectively bred trophy deer behind a high fence—is anathema to elk-hunting aficionados in the Rockies (not to mention many of my fellow Texans).

Q) Obsession is an animating theme in the book—everyone is “on the hunt” in some way. What is it about these wolves, and the American West, that courts such fascination?

A) We live in an era when species are disappearing from the earth at a faster rate than any time since the extinction of the dinosaurs. Most of what we do to counter that slowly unfolding disaster feels like a finger in the dam. Wolf reintroduction, by contrast, was a grand gesture, the kind of large-scale intervention that could only have been done in the West, home to our nation’s largest remaining tracts of wilderness. For many people, wolves are iconic—symbols of what was lost when the West was tamed, and harbingers of a hoped-for restoration of one of the world’s last great wildernesses. Of course, for the descendants of the people who eliminated wolves from the West, they represent something else entirely.

Q) At its core, American Wolf depicts a war of American ideals. Some characters embody a ruggedly masculine brand of independence—a drive to conquer an untamed landscape. And there are other characters championing conservation, an American tradition that dates back to the 19th century. How do these two ideals complement one another? How are they at odds?

A) Hunters in the Rockies would reject the notion that a Westerner has to fall in one camp or the other. Elk-hunting associations have devoted considerable resources to preserving habitat for their favorite animal, ensuring the long-term viability of the herds and benefitting other species as well. Likewise, many wolf advocates, including Yellowstone biologists, hunt elk every fall. Still, wolf reintroduction posits a classic clash of values. Wolves—and, more broadly, balanced ecosystems—are not “useful” in the same sense as a herd of elk that provides a living for a hunting guide, or a parcel of national forest that is leased for cattle grazing.

Q) How does O-Six, the compelling female alpha who anchors the story, fit in with our archetypes of self-made, charismatic American heroes?

A) Any wolf’s life would make a wonderful adventure story, if we only knew the details of her day-to-day existence. Ordinarily we wouldn’t, and that’s what made O-Six’s story so intriguing to me: it’s the saga of a wild animal whose life was as carefully observed and documented as an animal in a zoo. Her story is undeniably dramatic, but there is something else appealing about wolves as characters—the complexity of their social interactions sets them apart in the animal world. They are more like us than they first appear to be, and this makes their struggles seem both familiar and timeless.

Q) What was the biggest challenge in reporting this book? Was everyone willing to participate, or did you meet some resistance?

A) The broad outlines of O-Six’s life were widely available, but I wanted to tell her story as though she were a character in a novel, which could only be done by culling details from the thousands of pages of notes taken by Yellowstone’s small cadre of hyper dedicated wolf-watchers. Turning those notes over to a relative stranger—with no control over how they would be used—was an act of trust for which I am very grateful. I also wanted to make sure I included the perspective of a hunter, so that readers could understand the issue in all its complexity. After the worldwide backlash against the Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil, Zimbabwe’s most celebrated lion, this was a fraught request. Again, I relied on trust—in this case that his story would be relayed with dignity and respect.

Q) Every character in American Wolf is, in some way, fighting to survive and to protect their way of life. Which way of life do you think will win out? How do those fights fit into our current political climate?

A) In the twenty years since reintroduction, ranchers have gradually accommodated themselves to the idea that wolves are back to stay, though most would like to see fewer of them. Losses to wolves, while significant on a few ranches close to the core reintroduction areas, have not had a major impact on the livestock industry in the Northern Rockies as a whole. Likewise elk numbers are down in a few areas, but the overall health of the hunting business is good. Still, state politicians are determined to drive wolf numbers lower through long hunting and trapping seasons; opposing wolves—and, by proxy, federal government overreach—has become good politics. Wolf advocates, meanwhile, have not given up hope on returning wolves to the endangered species list, and we can expect more lawsuits in the years to come.

Q) Land use battles in the West have been well publicized—and everyone in your book (including the wolves) is fighting over territory and over the right to say what that land is for. What is the role of nature in our lives? Should we bend the natural environment to meet our needs, or is our job as stewards to maintain as small an imprint as possible?

A) Most public land in the West is still managed with resource extraction as the preeminent goal, though it does seem like we are headed, however gradually, toward a new paradigm. Some traditional uses—grazing cattle in the national forests, for example—look increasingly anachronistic in an era when restoring ecosystems has become a paramount goal for agencies like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The national parks, meanwhile, have never been more popular, as more and more families choose to spend their holidays outdoors. The future of this struggle may depend in part on whether newcomers to the northern Rockies (still one of the least populated regions of the country) bring with them a new conservation ethic—one centered on eco-tourism, for example, rather than hunting—and how long it takes that change to be reflected in the officials they send to Washington.

About the Author:

Nate Blakeslee is a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly. His first book, Tulia, was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award and won the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the Texas Institute of Letters nonfiction award, and was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2005. The Washington Post called it one of the most important books about wrongful convictions ever written. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his family.

AMERICAN WOLF: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West by Nate Blakeslee Crown • On Sale: October 17, 2017 • Price: $28.00 hardcover

Also available as an ebook and on audio from Penguin Random House Visit crownpublishing.com

You can find the author on twitter @Nate_Blakeslee.

I was sent an advance copy of “American Wolf” by Nate Blakeslee to read and review:

“American Wolf” takes you into the lives of Yellowstone’s wolves from the view point of one of the most “tenacious” wolf watchers, Rick McIntyre. McIntyre learns through observing O-Six and her family just how similar these iconic predators are to our domesticated dogs. Blakeslee introduces the reader to the conflicts between ranchers, trophy hunters and conservationists presenting the history of Yellowstone National Park’s wolves. A never-ending battle between man and wolf.” ~Rachel Tilseth, founder of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films

Live From Yellowstone National Park: Twenty-five Years of Wolves

Wildlife Biologist Dan Stahler and Wildlife Research Associate Kira Cassidy as they highlight scientific discoveries learned over the last 25 years. #25YearsOfWolves

Doug Smith Discusses Wolf Restoration From Yellowstone National Park Live

Senior wolf biologist Doug Smith going live from Yellowstone National Park regarding 25 years of wolf restoration on March 3, 2020.

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

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

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

Director Statement by Rachel Tilseth

This is a story of passion, endurance and fighting even when the odds are against you. In this story I want to introduce you to four courageous people working to preserve the legacy of Yellowstone’s wolves. People either love or hate the wolf, and he’s been long misunderstood for many centuries. Thousands of people in vehicles line the roads in Yellowstone National Park hoping for a glimpse of a wild wolf. People are everywhere, dozens at a time, searching through spotting scopes for wolves. One of these wolf watchers is advocate Ilona Popper, whose passion for wolves can be clearly heard in her voice. We introduce the viewer to ilona Popper as she sets up her spotting scope in Lamar Valley home to one of Yellowstone’s beloved wolf packs. As Ilona speaks you can hear the urgency in her voice because it’s September and the Montana wolf hunt is just around the corner. She recounts the tragic story of a famous alpha female wolf that was killed by a wolf hunter after she left the sanctuary of the park.

Time lapses will introduce the viewer to the ever changing weather that wolves face in Yellowstone. Drones are not allowed in the park boundaries but aerial footage will, along with the time lapses, give a perspective of the immensity of the park landscapes.

We introduce the viewer to Dr. Nathan Varley as he hikes in the picturesque landscape that is Yellowstone in winter, and is set at the Buffalo Ranch situated near the Lamar river. Dr. Varley is on a hike with wolf watcher clients where he explains the history of Yellowstone’s wolf reintroduction. Throughout the year, Dr. Varley along with his wolf tourism business partner and wife Linda Thurston, take their clients into the park every morning.

We introduce you to Marc Cooke President of Wolves of the Rockies during a spring snow storm and within view of the famous northern gate of Yellowstone. The viewer will see herds of bison, elk and antelope in spring time grazing on the moist green grasses as Marc talks about the famous 06 wolf of Lamar Valley pack.

I will introduce the viewer to cell phone audio of the Lamar Valley wolf packs’ hauntingly mournful howls, that was recorded at the very same spot where their family member was killed by a wolf hunter just outside of the park. I will introduce the viewer to Yellowstone’s wolf watcher community; then you will watch them as they move from one pull out to the next counting wolves.

You’ll hear engine noise from above as the head Yellowstone Wolf Project staff Dr. Doug Smith flies about counting wolves. The viewer will meet Yellowstone Wolf Project staff Kira Cassidy as she talks about wolf pack dynamics, recounting observations of one wolf pack’s struggle for survival, against the back drop of the Yellowstone River in Winter.

Film Treatment

This documentary tells the story of advocates working to preserve the legacy of Yellowstone National Park wolves that face an uncertain future because of legal wolf hunts just beyond the park’s border. A famous wolf, known as 06, was killed in a legal wolf hunt when she left the park’s sanctuary in 2012. Six years later 06’s daughter, known as Spitfire, wolf 926F suffered the same fate in November 2018. Today, Wolves in Yellowstone have become the “rock stars” of their species due to the hundreds of thousands of people that venture into the park hoping for a glimpse of a Yellowstone wolf. The death of 06 and other collared wolves has ignited a battle to create a buffer zone around Yellowstone National Park to protect it’s wolves because legal trophy hunts take place in Wyoming, Idaho & Montana.

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

Click here to donate to this film project

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

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

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

MEET THE ADVOCATES

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

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

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

Advocate Mark Cooke

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

Advocate Ilona Popper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1991 on a howl survey in the chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Rachel met Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program Head Wolf Biologist, Adrian Wydeven. Seven years later Rachel became involved in Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program. Rachel officially became a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Volunteer Winter Wolf/Carnivore Tracker in the year 2000, and as a result learned about the lives of wild gray wolves. In 1999, Rachel put together a story proposal about Adrian Wydeven’s volunteer Winter Wolf Tracking Program, and submitted it to National Geographic Television Channel. Although the proposal wasn’t accepted Rachel received a telephone call from them to explain why. The National Geographic Channel at the time was busy working on starting a global network and all of their resources were tied up in working to get it off the ground. The National Geographic Channel advised Rachel to resubmit the proposal in a year. Rachel continued working to draw attention to Wisconsin’s Gray wolf and wrote to Dr. Jane Goodall in Tanzania, Africa about the recovery program. Rachel received three handwritten postcards from Dr. Jane Goodall. In 2011 Great Lakes wolves were delisted. Rachel worked to draw attention to the plight of Gray wolves during the three years Wisconsin held wolf hunts.

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

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

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

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

Stories of People & Wolves…

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

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

About Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films

WODCW is a Film Company producing film projects that inspire change through environmental education and legislation. Gray wolves are recovering on a worldwide landscape, our films, involve a global audience. We connect and engage viewers with filmmakers dedicated to documenting the conscious relationships between advocates and Gray wolves. We view the need for people to meaningfully engage with its wild wolves that are now struggling for survival worldwide. To support this effort, we maintain a network of subject matter experts in film producers, scientists, academics, as well as other advocates who share a common interest to advocate, produce and share educational stories of people and Gray wolves.

The Heart of Wolf Advocacy—A Film Company

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films (WODCW) is a Film Company producing film projects that inspire change through environmental education and legislation. Gray wolves are recovering on a worldwide landscape, our films, involve a global audience. WODCW connects and engages viewers with filmmakers dedicated to documenting the conscious relationships between advocates and Gray wolves. WODCW views the need for people to meaningfully engage with its wild wolves that are now struggling for survival worldwide. To support this effort, WODCW maintains a network of subject matter experts in film producers, scientists, academics, as well as other advocates who share a common interest to advocate, produce and share educational stories of people and Gray wolves.

WODCW is working in Yellowstone National Park, Wisconsin, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands and Germany to bring you stories of advocates working to preserve the legacy of wild Gray wolves.

Wolves of Douglas County WI Films LLC believes Compassionate Conservation is the future. WODCW believes in Compassionate Conservation developed by Born Free Foundation. First, do no harm as a commitment to prioritising non-invasive approaches in conservation research and practice, and an acknowledgement that invasive interventions may harm individuals, populations, and ecosystems.

Individuals matter in conservation research and practice, not merely as units of species and populations, and should be treated with compassion both in the wild and in captivityValuing all wildlife as worthy of conservation effort, whether native or introduced, whether common or rare, and regardless of perceived usefulness to humans. Peaceful coexistence with wildlife is the ultimate aim guiding compassionate conservation practices.

WODCW does not support any type of trophy hunting to manage wild animals. Wolves of Douglas County WI Films LLC is an independent entity. Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin TM (WODCW) was founded by Rachel Tilseth in 2011 to bring education and awareness for promoting wolf recovery.

WODCW Blog: http://www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com

Instagram: @wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin

Twitter: @WolvesDouglasCo

Website address: www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com

Founder: Rachel Tilseth WODCW is copyrighted 2011

Meet the Filmmaker

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

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

In 1991 on a howl survey in the chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Rachel met Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program Head Wolf Biologist, Adrian Wydeven. Seven years later Rachel became involved in Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program. Rachel officially became a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Volunteer Winter Wolf/Carnivore Tracker in the year 2000, and as a result learned about the lives of wild gray wolves.

In 1999, Rachel put together a story proposal about Adrian Wydeven’s volunteer Winter Wolf Tracking Program, and submitted it to National Geographic Television Channel. Although the proposal wasn’t accepted Rachel received a telephone call from them to explain why. The National Geographic Channel at the time was busy working on starting a global network and all of their resources were tied up in working to get it off the ground. The National Geographic Channel advised Rachel to resubmit the proposal in a year.

Rachel continued working to draw attention to Wisconsin’s Gray wolf and wrote to Dr. Jane Goodall in Tanzania, Africa about the Wolf recovery program. In response Rachel received three handwritten postcards from Dr. Jane Goodall.

In 2011 Great Lakes wolves were delisted. Rachel worked to draw attention to the plight of Gray wolves during the three years Wisconsin held wolf hunts. Rachel garnered the attention of the press in an effort to bring public awareness to Wisconsin’s wolf hunt, especially the regulations that allowed dogs to be used to track and trail wolves. Rachel made it known that Wisconsin quite literally throws dogs to wolves.

Rachel has put together public events. Three film screenings, and one film festival, in order to bring education and awareness about Wisconsin’s wolf hunt, and wildlife issues. In 2011 Rachel started a Facebook Page and named it after the county she tracked wolves in; Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin (WODCW). WODCW became known nationally and internationally.

In 2018 Rachel began working on a film series titled Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy. Rachel’s film series tells the stories of advocates/people working to preserve the legacy of wild gray wolves. The first series is about Yellowstone Wolves, “The Yellowstone Story” and Rachel is the Producer and Director. Rachel formed a film company in 2019 Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films, LLC.

Gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park. Photograph credit NPS

Watch Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films’ Trailer

Producer and Director Rachel Tilseth

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yellowstone wolf photo credit NPS

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

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

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

Here’s more from Yellowstone Forever

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

This is a story of passion, endurance and fighting even when the odds are against you.

Meet the Advocates inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy-The Yellowstone Story Film project in the making…

Pitch Trailer

A Film Project

This documentary tells the story of advocates working to preserve the legacy of Yellowstone National Park wolves that face an uncertain future because of legal hunts just beyond the park’s border. A famous wolf, known as 06, was killed in a legal wolf hunt when she left the park’s sanctuary in 2012. Six years later 06’s daughter, known as Spitfire, wolf 926F suffered the same fate in November 2018. Today, Wolves in Yellowstone have become the “rock stars” of their species due to the hundreds of thousands of people that venture into the park hoping for a glimpse of a Yellowstone wolf. The death of 06 and other collared wolves has ignited a battle to create a buffer zone around Yellowstone National Park to protect it’s wolves because legal trophy hunts take place in Wyoming, Idaho & Montana. The film is set in our nation’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. By 1926, as a result of federal and state predator control efforts, gray wolves (Canis lupus) were officially extirpated from Yellowstone National Park. Northern Rocky Mountain wolves were eventually listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973.

Support the Film

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

The Film’s vision by director Rachel Tilseth

This is a story of passion, endurance and fighting even when the odds are against you. In this story I want to introduce you to four courageous people working to preserve the legacy of Yellowstone’s wolves. People either love or hate the wolf, and he’s been long misunderstood for many centuries.
Thousands of people in vehicles line the roads in Yellowstone National Park hoping for a glimpse of a wild wolf. People are everywhere, dozens at a time, searching through spotting scopes for wolves. One of these wolf watchers is advocate Ilona Popper, whose passion for wolves can be clearly heard in her voice. We introduce the viewer to ilona Popper as she sets up her spotting scope in Lamar Valley home to one of Yellowstone’s beloved wolf packs. As Ilona speaks you can hear the urgency in her voice because it’s September and the Montana wolf hunt is just around the corner. She recounts the tragic story of a famous alpha female wolf that was killed by a wolf hunter after she left the sanctuary of the park.
Time lapses will introduce the viewer to the ever changing weather that wolves face in Yellowstone. Drones are not allowed in the park boundaries but aerial footage will, along with the time lapses, give a perspective of the immensity of the park landscapes.
We introduce the viewer to Dr. Nathan Varley as he hikes in the picturesque landscape that is Yellowstone in winter, and is set at the Buffalo Ranch situated near the Lamar river. Dr. Varley is on a hike with wolf watcher clients where he explains the history of Yellowstone’s wolf reintroduction. Throughout the year, Dr. Varley along with his wolf tourism business partner and wife Linda Thurston, take their clients into the park every morning.
We introduce you to Marc Cooke President of Wolves of the Rockies during a spring snow storm and within view of the famous northern gate of Yellowstone. The viewer will see herds of bison, elk and antelope in spring time grazing on the moist green grasses as Marc talks about the famous 06 wolf of Lamar Valley pack. I will introduce the viewer to cell phone audio of the Lamar Valley wolf packs’ hauntingly mournful howls, that was recorded at the very same spot where their family member was killed by a wolf hunter just outside of the park.
I will introduce the viewer to Yellowstone’s wolf watcher community; then you will watch them as they move from one pull out to the next counting wolves. You’ll hear engine noise from above as the head Yellowstone Wolf Project staff Dr. Doug Smith flies about counting wolves. The viewer will meet Yellowstone Wolf Project staff Kira Cassidy as she talks about wolf pack dynamics, recounting observations of one wolf pack’s struggle for survival, against the back drop of the Yellowstone River in Winter.

Learn more click here

Meet the Filmmaker

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

Rachel Tilseth is a fine artist, educator, environmentalist, wolf advocate and filmmaker. Rachel lives and works in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Rachel earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education in 1992 from UW-Stout, graduating with cum laude honors. Rachel has been an environmentalist since high school. Rachel participated in the first Earth Day in 1971. Later, Rachel participated in the protests of sulfate mines that took place in the early 1990s. Rachel worked with activists John Trudell and Walter Bresette, whom she met at the Protect The Earth Festival near Hayward, Wisconsin. Rachel’s first art teaching job was in Kyle, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1992. In 1991 on a howl survey in the chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Rachel met Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program Head Wolf Biologist, Adrian Wydeven. Seven years later Rachel became involved in Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program. Rachel officially became a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Volunteer Winter Wolf/Carnivore Tracker in the year 2000, and as a result learned about the lives of wild gray wolves. In 1999, Rachel put together a story proposal about Adrian Wydeven’s volunteer Winter Wolf Tracking Program, and submitted it to National Geographic Television Channel. Although the proposal wasn’t accepted Rachel received a telephone call from them to explain why. The National Geographic Channel at the time was busy working on starting a global network and all of their resources were tied up in working to get it off the ground. The National Geographic Channel advised Rachel to resubmit the proposal in a year. Rachel continued working to draw attention to Wisconsin’s Gray wolf and wrote to Dr. Jane Goodall in Tanzania, Africa about the recovery program. Rachel received three handwritten postcards from Dr. Jane Goodall. In 2011 Great Lakes wolves were delisted. Rachel worked to draw attention to the plight of Gray wolves during the three years Wisconsin held wolf hunts. Rachel garnered the attention of the press in an effort to bring public awareness to Wisconsin’s wolf hunt, especially the regulations that allowed dogs to be used to track and trail wolves. Rachel made it known that Wisconsin quite literally throws dogs to wolves. Rachel has put together public events, three film screenings, one film festival, in order to bring education and awareness about Wisconsin’s wolf hunt, and wildlife issues. In 2011 Rachel started a Facebook Page and named it after the county she tracked wolves in; Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin (WODCW). WODCW became known nationally and internationally. In 2018 Rachel began working on a film series titled Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy. Rachel’s film series tells the stories of advocates/people working to preserve the legacy of wild gray wolves. The first series is about Yellowstone Wolves, “The Yellowstone Story” and Rachel is the Producer and Director. Rachel formed a film company in 2019 Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films, LLC.

Meet the Producer

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

Producer Maaike Middleton

The Trailer

We Remember Spitfire…

The Yellowstone National Park video is of Yellowstone Wolf Project Researcher Kira Cassidy as she watches the alpha female wolf 926 known as Spitfire chasing an elk. This November we remember Spitfire as one of the members of the famous Lamar Valley Wolf Pack because she was legally shot by a trophy hunter last November. RIP Spitfire.

By 1926, as a result of federal and state predator control efforts, gray wolves (Canis lupus) were officially extirpated from Yellowstone National Park. Northern Rocky Mountain wolves were eventually listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973.

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

Gray wolves being transported into Yellowstone National in 1996.

A famous wolf, known as 06, was killed in a legal wolf hunt when she left the park’s sanctuary in 2012. Six years later 06’s daughter, known as Spitfire, wolf 926F suffered the same fate in November 2018. Today, Wolves in Yellowstone have become the “rock stars” of their species due to the hundreds of thousands of people that venture into the park hoping for a glimpse of a Yellowstone wolf. The death of 06 and other collared wolves has ignited a battle to create a buffer zone around Yellowstone National Park to protect it’s wolves because legal trophy hunts take place in Wyoming, Idaho & Montana

The Famous Alpha Wolf 06 foreground with collar. Photograph courtesy of Doug McLaughlin.

The Montana and Wyoming Legislature dismissed the idea of a buffer zone for wolves that wander outside Yellowstone, instead instating a law prohibiting such buffer zones. Today there is controversy surrounding Yellowstone National Park wolves being legally hunted in Wyoming, Montana & Idaho when they wander from the sanctuary of park.

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

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

Watch the Pitch Trailer

This November we remember Spitfire.

The Yellowstone Story Film Project

Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story

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

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

Watch the Pitch Trailer

Director Statement by Rachel Tilseth “The Vision”

This is a story of passion, endurance and fighting even when the odds are against you. In this story I want to introduce you to four courageous people working to preserve the legacy of Yellowstone’s wolves. People either love or hate the wolf, and he’s been long misunderstood for many centuries.

Thousands of people in vehicles line the roads in Yellowstone National Park hoping for a glimpse of a wild wolf. People are everywhere, dozens at a time, searching through spotting scopes for wolves. One of these wolf watchers is advocate Ilona Popper, whose passion for wolves can be clearly heard in her voice. We introduce the viewer to ilona Popper as she sets up her spotting scope in Lamar Valley home to one of Yellowstone’s beloved wolf packs. As Ilona speaks you can hear the urgency in her voice because it’s September and the Montana wolf hunt is just around the corner. She recounts the tragic story of a famous alpha female wolf that was killed by a wolf hunter after she left the sanctuary of the park.

Time lapses will introduce the viewer to the ever changing weather that wolves face in Yellowstone. Drones are not allowed in the park boundaries but aerial footage will, along with the time lapses, give a perspective of the immensity of the park landscapes.

We introduce the viewer to Dr. Nathan Varley as he hikes in the picturesque landscape that is Yellowstone in winter, and is set at the Buffalo Ranch situated near the Lamar river. Dr. Varley is on a hike with wolf watcher clients where he explains the history of Yellowstone’s wolf reintroduction. Throughout the year, Dr. Varley along with his wolf tourism business partner and wife Linda Thurston, take their clients into the park every morning.

We introduce you to Marc Cooke President of Wolves of the Rockies during a spring snow storm and within view of the famous northern gate of Yellowstone. The viewer will see herds of bison, elk and antelope in spring time grazing on the moist green grasses as Marc talks about the famous 06 wolf of Lamar Valley pack. I will introduce the viewer to cell phone audio of the Lamar Valley wolf packs’ hauntingly mournful howls, that was recorded at the very same spot where their family member was killed by a wolf hunter just outside of the park.

I will introduce the viewer to Yellowstone’s wolf watcher community; then you will watch them as they move from one pull out to the next counting wolves. You’ll hear engine noise from above as the head Yellowstone Wolf Project staff Dr. Doug Smith flies about counting wolves. The viewer will meet Yellowstone Wolf Project staff Kira Cassidy as she talks about wolf pack dynamics, recounting observations of one wolf pack’s struggle for survival, against the back drop of the Yellowstone River in Winter.

Film Treatment “The Story”

This documentary tells the story of advocates working to preserve the legacy of Yellowstone National Park wolves that face an uncertain future because of legal wolf hunts just beyond the park’s border. A famous wolf, known as 06, was killed in a legal wolf hunt when she left the park’s sanctuary in 2012. Six years later 06’s daughter, known as Spitfire, wolf 926F suffered the same fate in November 2018. Today, Wolves in Yellowstone have become the “rock stars” of their species due to the hundreds of thousands of people that venture into the park hoping for a glimpse of a Yellowstone wolf. The death of 06 and other collared wolves has ignited a battle to create a buffer zone around Yellowstone National Park to protect it’s wolves because legal trophy hunts take place in Wyoming, Idaho & Montana. The film is set in our nation’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. By 1926, as a result of federal and state predator control efforts, gray wolves (Canis lupus) were officially extirpated from Yellowstone National Park. Northern Rocky Mountain wolves were eventually listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973.

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

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

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

MEET THE ADVOCATES

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

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

Advocate Mark Cooke

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

Advocate Ilona Popper

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

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

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

Poster design by Any Reich

Producers Maaike Middleton and Rachel Tilseth

Director Rachel Tilseth

A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film, LLC

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

Inside of the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story

Producer

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

Producer and Director

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

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

In 1991 on a howl survey in the chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Rachel met Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program Head Wolf Biologist, Adrian Wydeven. Seven years later Rachel became involved in Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program. Rachel officially became a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Volunteer Winter Wolf/Carnivore Tracker in the year 2000, and as a result learned about the lives of wild gray wolves. In 1999, Rachel put together a story proposal about Adrian Wydeven’s volunteer Winter Wolf Tracking Program, and submitted it to National Geographic Television Channel. Although the proposal wasn’t accepted Rachel received a telephone call from them to explain why. The National Geographic Channel at the time was busy working on starting a global network and all of their resources were tied up in working to get it off the ground. The National Geographic Channel advised Rachel to resubmit the proposal in a year. Rachel continued working to draw attention to Wisconsin’s Gray wolf and wrote to Dr. Jane Goodall in Tanzania, Africa about the recovery program. Rachel received three handwritten postcards from Dr. Jane Goodall.

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

The Trailer

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Presents

A Film Produced by Maaike Middleton Rachel Tilseth

Song “Don’t Know Why, But They Do”

Words & Music by Joe De Benedetti Noah Hill

Edited by Maaike Middleton

Cinematography by Maaike Middleton

Directed by Rachel Tilseth

B Roll National Park Service

Graphic Design Andy Reich

Advocates Ilona Popper

Nathan Varley

Linda Thurston

Marc Cooke

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

A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film, LLC

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

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

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