Teaching Compassion—Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy Documentary Film Series

The Yellowstone Story

Director Statement by Rachel Tilseth

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

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

Time lapses will introduce the viewer to the ever changing weather that wolves face in Yellowstone.

Drones are not allowed in the park boundaries but aerial footage will, along with the time lapses, give a perspective of the immensity of the park landscapes.

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

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

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

Film Treatment

What happens as Yellowstone wolves leave the sanctuary of the park? The states that border Yellowstone National Park hold legal trophy hunts. Meet the Advocates Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story

A famous wolf, known as 06, lost her life to a trophy hunter as she left the the park’s sanctuary in 2012. Six years later 06’s daughter, known as Spitfire, wolf 926F suffered the same fate in November 2018. Today, Wolves in Yellowstone have become the “rock stars” of their species due to the hundreds of thousands of people that venture into the park hoping for a glimpse of a Yellowstone wolf. Meet the advocates that work to preserve the legacy of Yellowstone National Park wolves as they face an uncertain future from legal trophy hunts just beyond the border. Advocates: Ilona Popper, Nathan Varley, Linda Thurston & Marc Cooke. A Wolves of Douglas County WI Films LLC, http://www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com produced by Maaike Middleton and Rachel Tilseth Directed by Rachel Tilseth.

Learn More About This film project click here.

Meet the Advocates: Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy—The Yellowstone Story 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 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.

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Our film is in production. Watch the following teaser “Meet the Advocates”

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 Kira Cassidy watching the alpha female wolf 926F as she chases an elk click the link: https://youtu.be/n_LkLFt3uYc


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Poster design by Any Reich

Producers Maaike Middleton and Rachel Tilseth

Director Rachel Tilseth

A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film

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

Rachel Tilseth is a freelance writer, fine artist, filmmaker and environmentalist. Tilseth has been a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Volunteer Winter Wolf Tracker since the year 2000. Tilseth worked with the Wisconsin Wolf Recovery Program as a volunteer since 1998, and as a result learned about the lives of wild gray wolves. Tilseth worked to draw attention to the plight of Gray wolves during the three years Wisconsin held wolf hunts. As an environmentalist Tilseth has organized events, film screenings and a film festival. Tilseth is the Producer and Director of Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story currently in production. Rachel Tilseth received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education in 1992 from UW-Stout, graduating with cum laude honors.

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

Wolves of Douglas County WI Films 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.

A Film Project “Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy – The Yellowstone Story”

A film that presents the viewer with a complete picture of what it means to advocate for an imperiled species protected within Yellowstone National Park; contrasted against an uncertain future because of wolf hunting taking place just beyond the park’s borders.

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

These stories will be the inspiration that helps the viewer to gain insight into the heart of wolf advocacy. Marc Cooke is one of the wolf advocates with a story to tell. Mark Cooke founded the nonprofit called Wolves of the Rockies headquartered out of Stevensville, Montana.

https://vimeo.com/264686221

Marc Cooke was born in Connecticut and living between both Cape Cod and Connecticut to a family of law enforcement officers. He attended parochial, public and private educational institution. During his childhood, he began what was to become a lifelong enjoyment and commitment to both domestic animals and wildlife well-being.

Marc Cooke After completion of higher education at Johnson & Wales University, he joined the United States Army to begin what would become a steady commitment to giving back to this country and causes he believed in. While in the military he was stationed in Germany and helped support Desert Storm and Desert Shield. It was during this time he met and married Lorenza and eventually moved to Switzerland.

After being Repatriated to Cape Cod Massachusetts for several years and continuing to have an interest in horses and wildlife. He eventually moved west and settled down in North West Montana.

https://vimeo.com/266407182

Enjoying all that Montana has to offer he quickly realized that wildlife was unnecessarily being abused for pleasure and profit. He became active at the grassroots level to abolish trapping in Montana. All the while watching the beginning of irrational hatred and abuse meant for wolves that had been reintroduced into Yellowstone and Idaho. He quickly shifted gears and began attending wolf related private and public hearings. It didn’t take long to realize that wolves were being railroaded and had virtually no grassroots support to defend and protect these animals at the local level. Livestock producers and all consumptive and trophy hunting organization were having their way with future wolf management in Montana and elsewhere.

As an individual, no county, state or federal decision-makers were listening. This was when Marc and several other pro-wolf individuals began National Wolf Watcher Coalition a 501 (C) 3 nonprofit. This eventually led to another nonprofit he founded called Wolves of the Rockies headquartered out of Stevensville, Montana.

Wolves of the Rockies is the most active local and national wolf defender and protector in Montana. Wolves of the Rockies has developed long-term relationships with other hunting and pro-wolf state and national conservation organizations. Along with decision makers such as Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Commissioners and state and federal elected officials.

Marc Cooke Under Wolves of the Rockies leadership, we have achieved many pro-wolf accomplishments. The creation of two subunits 313 & 316 that border Yellowstone National Park. They have gone from no wolf killing quota to only being able to hunt or trap two wolves in each. Also, no individual hunter can kill more than one wolf in 313 & 316. Rewards for the apprehension of Yellowstone wolf poachers, derailing the intention of extending wolf hunting season in the Bitterroot Valley that would have allowed the hunting of midterm pregnant wolves. He pushed for a Montana Trapping Advisory Committee that will represent the anti-trapping public. Closing the wolf hunting season around Yellowstone National Park for several months one year. WotR has derailed or softened many legislative bills that were considered anti-wolf and carnivore.

More on this documentary film project …

Inside the “Heart of Wolf Advocacy-The Yellowstone” Story is the story of the people that advocate to preserve the legacy of wolves in Yellowstone. Here’s more on the other wolf advocates in the film.

Ilona Popper writer, wolf watcher and member of Bear Creek Council.

Rick Lamplugh author and member of Bear Creek Council.

Nathan is the owner of The Wild Side, LLC, a wildlife touring business specializing in outfitting groups of all ages to view wolves and other wildlife in Yellowstone National Park.

And more interviews…

Along with interviews from the Yellowstone Wolf Project Doug Smith, Rick McIntyre and Kira Cassidy.

“Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy-The Yellowstone Story”. presents the viewer with a complete picture of what it means to advocate for an imperiled species protected within Yellowstone National Park; contrasted against an uncertain future because of wolf hunts taking place just beyond the park’s borders.

About the producers…

Maaike Middleton Co Producer

M.A Documentary by Practice, University of London – Royal Holloway

Graduated with Merit  B.A Media & Theatre Arts, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, Graduated Cum Laude

Raised in the Paradise Valley, schooled in London, traveled to 25+ countries, rooted in the Montana wilds. Growing up in Paradise Valley all I wanted to do was travel and see the world. After getting my BA in Filmmaking from Montana State University I did just that. I traveled to some amazing places, from the wild Gobi dessert in Mongolia to the temples of Angor Wat in Cambodia to the hustle and bustle of London where I received a Masters in Documentary filmmaking from the University of London. Returning to Paradise Valley to document the beauty that surrounds me daily. My passport ever ready for the next international adventure and hiking boots ready to explore the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Rachel Tilseth Co Producer and Director

Rachel holds a Batchelor of Science Degree in Art Education, graduated Cum Laude and is a retired art teacher. Tilseth’s interests in nature, specifically wolves, led her to advocate for wolves and wildlife. In the year 2000 she became involved in WI DNR Wolf Recovery Program working as a volunteer winter wolf tracker to present. She founded the blog and social media network Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin to bring education and awareness to Wisconsin’s wild wolf. Tilseth has spent several years speaking out against wolf trophy hunts. Tilseth is active in working to ban Wolf Hounding in Wisconsin. She has a strong background in the visual arts. She’s a sculptor and oil painter. Tilseth has expanded her interest into filmmaking. She’s currently in the process of creating a documentary film about the heart of wolf advocacy.

Donate Here

We now have a fiscal sponsor for our film. To make a tax deductible contribution go to Plan B Foundation and donate today! Five percent of your donation goes to help wolves and wolf programs throughout the USA.

Featured photograph by Wild at Heart Images Sandi Sisti

“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

https://vimeo.com/264686221

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

Memories of My First Wild Wolf Sighting

With so much depressing news about wolves these last few weeks – from the relentless anti-wolf legislation in Congress, to the dreadful Montana and Wyoming wolf hunts – I so desperately need some positive wolf thoughts running through my head right now. So, I take myself back to the first time I ever saw a wolf in the wild.

Believe it or not, for something that had such an emotional effect on me, I cannot for the life of me remember the exact place or year –  I think it might have been in 2004 and possibly near Cache Creek. I was on a week-long backpacking trip in the northern portion of Yellowstone. On my backpacking trips I have always gone with a guide so I can just enjoy being in the moment and soak up the grandeur of all the sights and sounds around me. That being said, my topographic map-reading and triangulation skills are pretty much non-existent.

We had good weather for most of the trip, and our group of about 8 people was a fun one. We saw numerous birds, eagles, elk, coyotes, a cinnamon black bear, and buffalo, but as always, on any backpacking trips I had taken in Yellowstone, no wolves – not even a howl. What I would give to hear or see a wild wolf, but alas, I thought this trip would be like all the others – devoid of wolves.

The gaze of the wolf reaches into our soul.” ~Barry Lopez

Our last morning in the back country started with coffee and a breakfast of instant oatmeal, granola, and any food that was left over from the week – get rid of as much pack weight as possible before the day’s hike. Everyone was a bit introspective, trying to hang onto the tranquility of the wilderness, knowing that all too soon the worries of the real world would come crashing back. We were also faced with our longest trek of the trip – a 10+-mile hike over a mountain pass to get back to the trailhead.

Most of us lingered over a last cup of coffee, reluctant to finish packing up our tents and gear. Suddenly, our guide, Howie, pointed to the hiking trail about 100 yards away. Everyone’s head spun in that direction, and there they were – six wolves! They were walking single file along the same trail we had just hiked the day before. One wolf was collared, and the last wolf in line was limping and trailing behind the others. The wolf that was second to last in line would often wait for the limping wolf to catch up.

I remember thinking how much longer their legs seemed to be than a dog’s legs – tall and lanky, but just so beautiful – the epitome of true wilderness. No one had a camera at hand, and we passed a couple of pairs of binoculars among ourselves to watch them. My heart was pounding so hard at the thrill and excitement of finally seeing a wolf in the wild, that I could barely hold the binoculars still.

“Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.” ~John Muir

They didn’t hurry down the trail, even knowing full well we were there. I suspect they sensed that we were not a threat to them. When the wolves went out of sight, everyone was jumping up and down and high-fiving each other at our good fortune. The chances of seeing wolves on a backpacking trip are slim. Although they were in our view for only a couple of minutes, those fleeting moments are something I will treasure forever.

I do not know which wolf pack we saw, and I am not sure if our guide ever found out either. I do know that the sight of those wolves stirred something deep in my soul – something that keeps me yearning to see them again.

I feel a strong obligation to fight for wolves – perhaps the most wrongfully persecuted animal in the world. I will fight so others have the chance to experience that same heart-stopping thrill of seeing a wolf in the wild. I will fight so that people will see that we can coexist with wolves. I will fight so that wolves can live in peace and not be subject to the heartless cruelty of humans.

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Wolves in Peril: The Hunt has Begun

Anger, disgust, fear – those are the emotions running through me right now.

The 6-month-long wolf hunting season in Montana begins today, September 15th and runs through March 15th – six long and stress-filled months. Montana has mapped the state into 18 Wolf Management Units (WMUs) which it opens to wolf hunting. Of these 18 WMUs, only 3 have quotas. The remaining 15 have no limits on how many wolves are killed.

What makes the Montana scheduled wolf hunt all that much worse is that many of the WMUs immediately surround Yellowstone, Teton, and Glacier National Parks, where wolves are protected, and which also serve as corridors for wolves dispersing into or out of these parks. The Yellowstone wolves, especially, are more used to and tolerant of human presence. If these wolves happen to take one step over the invisible park boundary, they can be shot and killed by trophy “hunters”. How “sporting” is it to sit with a loaded rifle just outside of a National Park waiting for a wolf to step over a human-drawn border of which the wolf has no knowledge?

How lonely is the night without the howl of a wolf. ~Unknown

I realize that Yellowstone wolves are no more or less important than any other wolves, but the Yellowstone wolves are the wolves I have come to know – I know their stories. I have watched them in person, I have photographed them, I read about their lives on a daily basis. I care deeply about these wolves because I know them. Each day between now and March 15th I dread that I will read that one of the Yellowstone wolves that I have come to know has fallen victim to the wolf hunt.

Yellowstone wolves are in even greater peril, as the first wolf hunting season since 2013 begins in Wyoming on October 1st and runs through December 31st. Wyoming has designated 12 wolf hunting units surrounding Yellowstone National Park where up to 44 wolves can be shot and killed. In the remainder of the state, wolves are considered predatory animals and can be shot and killed 24/7, 365 days a year.

When I was twelve, I went hunting with my father and we shot a bird. He was laying there and something struck me. Why do we call this fun to kill this creature [who] was as happy as I was when I woke up this morning. ~Marv Levy

It seems that wolves everywhere are under attack. In my home state of Wisconsin, wolves are being used as political pawns and may soon be hunted like Montana’s and Wyoming’s wolves. What’s worse, is that in Wisconsin it is legal to use dogs when hunting wolves – pitting dogs against wolves – it doesn’t get much lower than that.

With the ever-growing movement of protecting and preserving wolves and wildlife, it appears our politicians and state wildlife agencies are doing just the opposite and keeping the recovery and future of wolves in peril.

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Sarcoptic mange, present in one of 10 known packs in Yellowstone as of 2015

Source: Effects of Sarcoptic Mange on Gray Wolves in Yellowstone National Park. And Yellowstone Wolf: Project Citizen Science

Recent research

The dynamics and impacts of sarcoptic mange on Yellowstone’s wolves

Research contact: Emily Almberg
Project background
Sarcoptes scabiei, the mite that causes the skin infection known as sarcoptic mange, was introduced to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem as a biological control agent aimed at eliminating wolves during the predator control era in the early 1900s.
Although the mite is globally distributed and was at least present throughout parts of Canada in the early 1900s, to date, we have no evidence that it was locally present prior to its release by state veterinarians.

Following the eradication of wolves from the ecosystem in the 1930s, mange is thought to have persisted within the regional furbearer populations (coyotes, foxes, etc.)  To read more from Yellowstone Wolf: Project Citizen Science click HERE.   To read more from: Effects of Sarcoptic Mange on Gray Wolves in Yellowstone National Park click HERE

 

Figure 1.

 
 

Figure 2.

 
Wolves were reintroduced in 1995 and 1996 to Yellowstone National Park, and mange began appearing in wolves outside of Yellowstone in 2002. By the early winter of 2007, mange had invaded the park’s wolves (Fig 1 & 2).


Source  and Study Shows Cold and Windy Nights Physically Drain Mangy Wolves Released: 3/29/2016 12:53:05 PM