Medicine of the Wolf (2015) Movie Script

There is a place up north, far north.
A place called Wolf country.
When I heard that
wolves had been removed
from the endangered species list,
after 40 years of protection,
I was surprised.
As I knew we only had
a few thousand wolves
left in the country.
And it troubled me that we were still
so divided in our thinking
about this highly intelligent species.
So I decided to travel to places
where they still could be found
and talk to people who knew
and studied them,
and somehow try to understand why
there were those who still
feared and misunderstood them.
Wow, it's a beautiful day.
And we're headed up
to northern Minnesota
to go see Jim Brandenburg.
Jim Brandenburg has been photographing
and writing about wolves
for over 45 years.
He's known all over the world
for his study of wolves.
This is a really unique area
that we're going to.
It's... it's actually
called wolf country,
and where Jim lives, it borders on
the boundary waters canoe area,
which has a million
acres of pure wilderness.
Being out here, it's very
different from where I grew up.
You can see all kinds of wildlife.
You can see eagles,
and if you're lucky,
you might even see a wolf.
This is northern Minnesota.
It definitely takes
a unique and hearty person
to live out here.
Everybody's up here
for a different reason.
My reason was to be close to the
wilderness and to photograph wolves.
Or to see wolves, I didn't
have to photograph them,
I just want to be around them.
And it evolved, it took me years,
many, many years to get
some decent photographs,
so it wasn't a practical consideration,
it wasn't a job, or a career move
to come up here and photograph wolves,
and do posters and do
books and do movies.
It was just an intuitive
fire inside of me.
I got into photographing
wolves and telling their story
because I thought they were the most
persecuted animal in the world.
More than lions, more than tigers,
I really believe the wolf...
the wolf's reputation
is worst, misplaced reputation
of any animal in the world.
And I thought, there's a story.
about a mile from here, I
was walking with my camera,
Nikon F manual exposure
with a 300-millimeter lens,
snowshoes, on lake Juan
at the end of the Fernwood
trail, which is right here,
I saw a wolf before it saw me.
I fell down onto the ice and the snow,
crouching, thinking maybe, maybe
I can sneak up on this wolf,
maybe the wolf won't see me.
The wolf kept coming, the wolf saw me,
and it said,
"ah, is that food, is that a beaver?"
"Is that a dead moose?
Is that a dead deer,
is it... what is that thing?"
The wolf started stalking me,
you think I was excited?
That's one of my first
encounters with a wolf,
and I was stalked by a wolf.
I have photographs to prove it.
Not just a story.
I cherish those photographs,
but you should see the look
in that wolf's face
when it finally decided
that I was a human.
That's when I knew that
wolves were slightly
different than what I thought they were.
I could see all the embarrassment
condensed in one expression,
and walking away,
like, "well you fooled me for a second,
but don't tell anybody."
That whole...
the series of photographs is precious,
I never even published it.
Steve Piragis and his wife
have lived up on the edge of
the boundary waters canoe area
for over 35 years,
outside of a town called Ely, Minnesota,
which is the closest town
to wolf country,
with a population of 3,500 people.
They came and fell in love
with the wilderness
and decided to make it
their permanent home.
Now it's their backyard.
They have an outfitting company,
Piragis northwoods company,
where they lead canoe excursions,
including howling for wolves canoe trip.
You know, I mean,
we enjoy that we live in a place
that's wild enough that
we have wild wolves
in our neighborhood,
and we hear 'em howling,
and I mean, I had a great
experience with wolves, myself,
oh, just a half... oh, about
a mile actually, from here,
when I was out on a run,
very unusual opportunity
to see wolves close up.
There was, uh... two adults
and two... two very young pups.
Uh, it was in may, so it was probably...
they were probably
six or eight weeks old,
and they were down in kind
of a hollow in a clear cut,
so I could... as I ran along the road,
I could see these four wolves,
two adults, two pups.
And, uh... they saw me,
and the mom, I assume the mom,
kind of a large Grey wolf,
and the other one's a very dark wolf,
much smaller, um,
the mom kind of scurried
up into the woods
and made a high-pitched caw, a very
high-pitched screaming kind of caw,
and everybody followed her up into
the woods. The babies stopped,
they were just rolling over each other
like two little pups having fun,
and the mom started,
you know, alerting them,
and they walked up into
the woods together.
So I go around the backside of the hill,
and I imitated this little sound,
this... this high-pitched
call that the mom was doing,
and lo and behold, out of the
woods come the two pups.
Like right to me,
right within four feet of me.
And... they... you know, they thought
I was the mom calling to them.
So, uh, I said, wow, this is...
this is pretty neat,
and, uh... within seconds later,
the trees kind of
start shaking down the hill,
and down the hill comes the mom,
making a... a show of it
by shaking the trees.
Shows up right in front
of me with the two pups,
looks at me, and runs away.
And I thought, that's fairly unusual
for the mom to run away.
And a couple seconds later,
back she comes,
same thing, trees shaking, you know,
and this time she stands over the pups,
I'm probably 12 feet away at the most.
Stands over the pups,
all of the hackles on the back
of her neck come up,
her head low... lowers down,
she's looking straight at me,
and goes "woof."
And I said, you know, intellectually,
that was the one time
I was a little afraid
Of wolves.
The place we meet wolves
for the first time
is in that fantastic story
of little red riding hood.
And it's not a very
complimentary story to wolves,
it in fact is one of the
first fear characters
that we, as children, engage with.
These all relate to some
of the myths around
wolves. And... and they're dangerous,
because they're not accounts
of the actual wolves,
they're not accounts F real, live wolves
and the behaviors that wolves engage in.
My God!
The werewolf, the loup-garou, was...
was a... is a mischievous creature
that will come at night
and steal your shoes.
So you wake up in the
morning, where are my shoes?
Oh, they took it, right,
and so you go into the forest
looking for this creature that is
hiding behind the tree with your shoes.
And all of a sudden,
it became this, you know,
blood-thirsty animal
that will steal your kid,
not your shoes.
The risk of being injured,
or killed by a wolf
is... is... is minuscule.
If you are afraid of a wolf,
your car keys
should be taken away from you,
because you're far more likely
to get in a car wreck,
you shouldn't step in an airplane,
you shouldn't go outside if there's
lightning anywhere nearby,
these are all far, far more common
causes of injury and death.
And so wolves, simply, uh, are
not a threat to human beings,
it's just a... it's a
silly thing to think so.
The wolf made a decision
to join the human family.
Somehow, someway, because they fit in.
Why did the wolf come into the human
family 40... 50... 60,000 years ago,
and the cat didn't, or the horse didn't?
Because it seemed to be a little
more of an easy partnership.
They blended in a little bit better.
That was a decision that the wolf made
for sustainability and survivability.
Do you think there are
more dogs in the world
than wolves right now?
How many millions and millions
of dogs are there in the world?
That's... that's the wolf.
The wolf decided that somehow.
It's clear that the evolution
of the wolf to the dog
has had a huge impact on man.
Think of the many gifts from the wolf.
Seeing eye dogs, service animals,
even companionship.
Scientific studies have even proven
that people live longer that have dogs.
And the wolf is more intelligent,
has advanced senses, and a bigger brain.
We're similar to them,
they're not similar to us.
It's very interesting, because I mean,
we learn our initial programming,
a lot of it, we learn from them.
On average, a wolf walks for
about eight hours of every day,
and they can walk at quite a clip,
they can walk
at four to six Miles an hour,
and so if you wanna know what
it's like to be a wolf, walk.
And just keep walking, and walk and
walk and walk. Walk day after day.
This is a big, big part of what the life
of a wolf is all about, is walking.
It's the simplest thing.
And the next most important thing
is... is also something that's very,
very closely related to humans,
is just that wolves live in
families, they live in packs.
And a pack is basically a family unit,
and while wolves spend about eight
hours of every day walking,
they spend about eight hours of every
day socializing with their pack mates.
And so if you like living
in your family,
and if you like walking, you have a
great deal in common with wolves,
and the next most important
thing to know about wolves
is how it is that they get their food.
They eat things that are
generally bigger than them.
Sometimes up to 10 times their size.
And so wolves capture their
food, whether it's a moose,
or a deer, or an elk, they do it
by killing it with their teeth.
Imagine killing something that's 10
times your size with your teeth,
and that's the only way
you're gonna get to eat.
And so it's incredibly heroic,
it's incredibly dangerous
uh, to be able to get food in this way.
Um, wolf is capable of living
to about 12 years of age,
but their life expectancy
is about four years of age,
and one of the most common
causes of death is starvation,
the inability to get enough food,
and it's just because it's
really hard to kill something
that's 10 times your size
with your teeth.
I grew up in this hunting culture
where you defined
your worth, in some ways,
by how many pheasants you could shoot,
or how many ducks you could get,
and what kind of a trophy you could get.
The biggest buck
with the biggest antlers,
and if you could go shoot a wolf,
pfft, you're a real man.
One day I found myself heading north
with some friends
from Hardwick, Minnesota,
they were probably 10
years older than me,
they were going to go wolf hunting.
Okay, it's not the ultimate animal,
maybe it is back then.
There was a bounty on wolves.
A 50-dollar bounty.
What does that mean?
It means that, culturally, it was
a value to kill them, right?
So us naive prairie kids...
I imagine they were in
their 20s, and I was 15...
let's go up north, go look for
wolves, and go hunt them.
So I had a m-1 carbine,
world war ii vintage
that I got from NRA,
but I was a young boy
expressing my cultural norm,
and if I could go up and kill a wolf,
I would be the hero of my town,
it'd be in the newspaper,
there'd be pictures.
So I went up north with
my friends and looked,
walked through the woods, and... scared.
Scared that I'd see a wolf,
scared that I wouldn't.
I was good shot, and if I saw
one, I might have killed it.
Didn't see one, didn't see any tracks.
To me, the ultimate question is,
why do you kill the things you love?
I think it's a primal thing.
It's a male thing.
Uh, we go back 30,000 years
to the cave paintings
in Glasgow and Southern France.
Picasso said it's the most
beautiful art man's ever created,
we can't even equal that.
They love them, but they killed as
many as they could to eat them.
So it's in our genes, I mean, for
thousands and thousands and thousands
and thousands of years, we hunted.
We forget that sometimes,
I think, in this century.
It wasn't that long ago,
we depended upon
the weapon bow and arrow,
atlatl, spear, gun,
to go out and keep our families alive
and keep ourselves fed.
Well we haven't evolved past that,
we still have that strange
kind of an instinct
we wanna quest, we wanna hunt,
it's very powerful.
Most of the stuff of what we do in life
is a gradual slide into a consciousness,
or a point of view.
Some of us reach those points
where something happens
one day and it changes,
and you meet someone,
you read a book, you watch a movie.
This particular day, I was 14 years old,
up in a state park
near Luverne, Minnesota
where I grew up, and I was a
fox hunter at this point.
I killed fox for a living,
and I liked it.
The most... one of the most
exciting times of my life.
Yet, I love fox.
Outwit them.
Not easy to kill a fox,
they're very smart.
You have to be pretty good
at tracking and watching,
and you have to be a good shot.
But there's a certain point you
evolve somehow, you change.
The camera just happened
to come into my life somehow,
as the artist.
I was up in the blue mountains
with my camera, instead of my gun,
and I saw a fox off in the distance.
Well I learned from an old
friend of mine, Jeff Cooney,
10 years older than me,
that did the same thing,
how to squeak like a mouse
to make the fox think
there's a free meal,
so I hid behind a rock and went...
The fox came running, I peeked up,
just as the fox came within
maybe 10 feet,
made a click with my three-dollar
plastic Argus camera,
I was like, "wow, that's amazing."
Then I got a picture back a week later.
You take it to the drugstore... black
and white film, it's a process,
they come back with a little print,
and magic.
I shot the fox.
I captured, there's my trophy.
There's my bragging point.
I don't have a fox skin,
I have a photograph.
This is even better.
I can put it on the wall
and the fox is still alive.
It didn't take long.
From that moment on,
it was a different story.
And I'm still doing the same thing.
I'm still a hunter.
I'm... I'm still tricking
animals, sneaking up on them.
Jim had met Will Steger in the 80's,
and the two embarked on a well-known
expedition to the north pole.
Jim had heard about the white
wolf not being afraid of man,
and became fascinated with an idea
of a similar mission to the arctic.
And the unique opportunity to document,
and live with wolves in the wild.
Less than 500 Miles from the north pole
lies Canada's most distant frontier,
Ellesmere island.
Only someone with a passion for wolves
would dream of tracking them
into this desolate land.
One such person is
photographer Jim Brandenburg.
Wolves have always
been a favorite animal of mine,
and I suppose one of the reasons
they're my favorite animal
is because they're so intelligent.
That intelligence makes it, uh...
nearly impossible to film them
in a more conventional place,
say in the forested areas.
And for some reason these arctic wolves
have... have got a quality about them
where they tolerated us very well,
and it became clear
that it would make a wonderful story.
In 1986, Jim's white wolf premiered
at the Sundance film festival and
won numerous prestigious awards.
White wolf also became
a best-selling book,
and was the cover story
for the national geographic magazine.
When I was involved in that,
I felt this is the
highlight of my career,
I will never equal it,
except one thing maybe.
If a bunch of aliens had
popped down on my property
and said, "Jim, come with us
on our spaceship,
we're gonna go off to another planet."
I'm... I'm kidding.
It sounds funny,
this is my... this is a
true conception I thought,
when I was in the middle of
the white wolf experience,
I thought, I will never equal this,
and I was right.
I've never equaled it since.
Our tent, in research,
was within a five-minute walk
of the den.
Lived right with them, as a family.
We had problems with the white wolves
coming stealing
our stuff out of the tent.
So, it's very different than here,
the wolves up there were
kind of blase about humans.
To see a wolf here, back
in those days, was rare.
I know people in Ely that
spent a lifetime here
and never saw a wild wolf.
At times, it pays to speak wolf.
The Alpha male, the leader of the pack,
the father of the pups, the boss
injured his paw for about three weeks.
He was injured, couldn't really hunt.
The rest of the pack took care of him.
Saw it, I mean it was clear.
They had babysitters,
scruffy, we called him.
The pack would go off hunting.
Scruffy around the pack
would be very submissive,
and wolves are like humans. And
they beat up one another other,
you see a weak one, that, uh, was the...
the... in every class of 30 kids,
there's always one kid
that everybody picks on.
Not everybody, but, they get picked on.
Wolf pack's the same way.
This scruffy animal we called scruffy,
the rest of the wolves
beat him up all the time.
Constantly were picking
on him, and chewing on him,
well when the rest
of the pack went off hunting,
scruffy was the designated babysitter.
Scruffy did that to the pups.
Scruffy was the big boss and it was very
subtle complex behavior with wolves.
I saw stuff that mimicked
a lot of human behavior.
Aunts and uncles, and children,
and brothers, and sisters
taking care of the pack.
Not just casually,
but very tight family unit.
The very last day, as we packed up,
the den was about seven Miles
away from the landing strip,
a little... it was a very small
remote landing strip, and...
we got in the airplane,
packed the stuff up,
the lump in my throat was as
big as the airplane itself.
I looked out the window, and there was
the family of wolves sitting there,
like they were saying goodbye.
Next to the landing
strip as we taxied off
and took off.
And I think of that as a story
that someone would make up,
but on my mother's grave
it's a true story.
I haven't been back since.
In the words of author Barry Lopez,
"and to approach them slowly in terms
of the Western imagination
is really to deny the animal."
"It behooves us to visit with the people
whom we share a planet,
and an interest in wolves,
but who themselves come
from a different time space,
and who, so far as we know,
are very much closer to the wolf
than we will ever be."
James Taylor called one day,
the singer, wanted me to help
him with an album cover.
He wanted a wolf on the album
cover, and that surprised me.
His album, "never die young."
I didn't think he knew
much about wolves,
but he knew a lot about wolves.
Came up here and saw wolves.
I asked him if he'd do a benefit
concert for wolves, and he said yes.
We did two of them.
One in Minneapolis,
one in Madison, Wisconsin.
Raised some nice money,
some of that money went to
the defenders of wildlife,
defenders of wildlife leveraged
that up into a... a program
to give the ratchers over
on Yellowstone an excuse
to allow the reintroduction
of wolves into Yellowstone
by paying for the cows that the wolves
killed off the park properties.
So in a tiny, small way,
James Taylor and I
had a fairly significant role
in opening up that dam to let the
wolf be reintroduced to Yellowstone.
We didn't know if the wolf would
survive in Yellowstone, particularly.
They thrived.
When the wolf returned to Yellowstone,
after an absence of over 65 years,
scientists discovered
an ecological phenomenon
called the trophic cascade.
"Trophic" refers to the
different levels of the food chain,
plant being one, insects the next,
all the way up the ladder.
And the wolf had a cascading effect.
The elk and deer grew stronger,
the aspens and willows flourished,
even the grass grew taller.
And the most fascinating, was
that the rivers were covered,
along with its many inhabitants.
Despite being small in numbers,
this top predator would not
only transform the ecosystem,
but also, its physical geography.
A magical story of ecology and a
missing piece being put back in.
Sometimes I say once you break
something in the environment
you can't fix it.
That's magical.
I'm very proud of that.
And every time you listen
to a James Taylor song,
think of that and thank him.
Good shot.
That's the end of her.
Then, in 2011, something shifted.
Despite a sea-change of attitude
about this iconic species,
president Obama signed off
on de-listing the wolf.
The same year,
state legislatures in the west
pushed through a wolf
hunting and trapping bill
that would put the collared wolves
in Yellowstone in jeopardy.
Soon, gunshots were
reported around the globe,
and millions mourn the death
of the most famous wolf in the world.
Researchers knew her
as the Alpha female 832f,
but to many, she was known as 06.
And this is where wolves are revealing
in, in our... in humans,
what might be a great failing.
And, and... the concern
is this basically,
it's just that, as a country
we don't know how to answer
this very simple question, which is,
what is an endangered species?
And there's definitely controversy
about how to interpret that phrase
and what it means,
but whatever it means,
occupying 15% of the historic range
could not possibly count as recovery.
And snaring,
I wasn't even aware of snaring.
I mean, I had heard of it.
I learned about that during this time,
and now I'm just so appalled
that 75% of the wolves
that were killed during
the trapping season
were killed by snaring.
The trap itself is created in such a way
that it will catch any animal
that steps into it.
And that mean... would mean
not only the target animal,
which in this instance
would be the wolf,
but any other animal
that steps into that trap.
A beautiful male coyote,
a three-to four-year-old male coyote
was caught in a wildlife services trap.
And it appeared to us that this
animal had been in this trap,
from the extent of
its injuries in the tissue,
for anywhere from a week minimum,
but possibly two weeks.
As we investigated
the situation, looked around,
we found other coyote tracks
within his area, right around
him and in the snow around him.
And what was interesting
is it appeared to us that
possibly his mate, or another coyote,
was actually helping him survive,
was actually protecting him
against other predators,
and probably bringing him food, too.
If the American public saw this
and understood the brutality
and the cruelty of this,
that this program would
be ended very quickly.
I often ask people who abuse animals
and do nasty things to animals,
"would you do it to your dog?"
And some people don't like to hear that
because it puts them
in a very uneasy space.
And, you know, thank goodness,
if I've talked to somebody
who's, you know, trapped a wolf,
shot a wolf, done something harm...
poisoned prairie dogs,
um, harmed coyotes,
and I say well,
"would you do it to you dog?"
They go,
"well no, of course I wouldn't."
And then I'll say, "well how come
you can do it to another animal
who is also sentient and conscious
and feels pain?"
And oftentimes, with a lot of people,
there's a pause.
And it's an important pause, I think,
because they haven't ever put their dog
in the place of those animals.
Following the de-listing
in the Yellowstone area,
the wolf was about to face a new threat
in the Great Lakes region.
Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar
petitioned the interior secretary
for the de-listing of
the wolf in Minnesota,
and were calling for a
state-regulated wolf hunt.
Senator Dibble.
Thank you, Mr. President,
we're not quite done with wolves, sorry.
- Um, I have the a18 amendment.
- Senator dibble offers
the a18 amendment, the secretary
will report the amendment.
Senator dibble moves to
amend house file 2171 as amended
pursuant to rule 45 adopted by
the senate April 17th, 2012,
as follows, page 22 delete section 50,
this is the a18 amendment.
And it was very clear what the intent
of that committee hearing was.
It was to roll out a... a plan to hunt
wolves in the state of Minnesota.
This is even before the
official de-listing occurred.
The first hearing at the
legislature was January...
was a day before the d-listing,
was January 26th.
In the house and in the senate.
The... the rush was on.
The pressure was on.
There was going to be a wolf hunt.
The big agricultural groups,
the big hunting groups
had done their homework,
had effectively lobbied
all the chairs on the committees.
Already had a plan
in place through the DNR
to begin this hunt in 2012.
The bill was rushed through,
it eventually was incorporated
into the game and fish bill, there
was some debate on the floor,
but it was just too late in the process
for us to stop it.
The authority that has been
working on... on wolves
for many, many years,
no... no question about it,
there was no hesitation
on that particular call.
It was asked directly on that
particular conference call
if it is time to manage
wolves in Minnesota
and this man said, "absolutely."
And he said because of
the numbers, number one,
and because the numbers...
If they continue to grow
at the rate they are growing,
they're gonna be causing
problems amongst themselves.
Yes, so recently, the federal
government proposed to delist wolves
throughout the lower 48,
excepting for Mexican wolves.
And whenever the federal government
makes a proposal like that,
it has to go through
a scientific peer review.
And so I was selected
to be a peer reviewer,
along with a couple of others,
and we were selected on the
basis of our credentials,
on the basis of what
we knew about wolves.
It was later discovered, uh...
that myself and these
two colleagues of mine
were not favorably disposed
to this particular proposal
to delist wolves across the country.
And when that was found out,
uh, we were uninvited
to be panelists to review this document.
And that created some controversy for
folks, because of course it's not a...
a very sensible way
to go about a peer review,
to just take people off
because you might not like
the opinion that they would come to.
And, um... and, this
really is just a symptom
of a much bigger trouble uh,
that we have on the planet,
we think that, uh... uh, life is
just full of a bunch of opinions,
and one opinion is the same as another,
and that's not the case. Uh, the thing
that makes a scientific opinion
different from any other kind of opinion
is just how well it's defended.
And so it doesn't matter
what my opinion is,
what matters is how well-reasoned it is,
and how well-defended it is.
Members, it's... it's very easy
for those of you who live around here
and you can watch
wolves on television, and...
and, uh... but it's a lot
different for people
that actually live in wolf country,
where wolves live.
Where parents are afraid
to leave their kids alone
to wait for the school bus.
I know one of the editors
of one of my newspapers
and when she takes a walk at night,
she carries a handgun with her.
Because of wolves.
The decision was made.
And now to take it
away from these people
that are so impassioned about the wolf,
to kill the wolf.
There's... as much passion as
you see to protect the wolf,
there may be more passion,
may be more, to kill the wolf.
There may be.
And it's... it's a laser-seeking,
hot-point on a politician's skin.
And they are just,
it's... it's pathetic.
Members, if you'd really like
to see what the wolves do
in greater Minnesota,
take a look online of the
picture of the young man
that was taken out of his sleeping bag
while he was camping
in northern Minnesota.
And take a look at his skull,
where there's staples,
where the wolf took a big
chunk out of his head.
A wolf attack is incredibly rare.
Matter of fact, there's
only two recorded attacks
in the entire United States
in over a hundred years.
Now, the last one just happened
in Minnesota recently,
and they... they shot
and killed the wolf,
and then they... they
tested him for rabies,
he did not have rabies,
but what he had was
he had an incredibly deformed jaw
which prevented him from hunting.
He had been kicked out of his pack,
and he was doing things
that are not normal
wolf behavior for survival purposes.
Management is very much needed.
I suggest that we let
the DNR do their job,
and for those of us that
live in greater Minnesota,
where we have wolves,
where we see wolves,
they're not just little German Shepherds
that live in your backyard.
They're big wolves,
and they're a problem.
I truly believe
that the problem comes from
too many wolves.
I'm not against the wolf,
the wolf is a beautiful animal
when he's where he belongs.
Um, but he's not that beautiful
when he's in my cow yard.
We, um... I see a lot of
T-shirts around here today
that says, "howling wolves" on it,
um, you know if I'm laying
in my bed in a motel
down here in the cities
and I hear a wolf howl,
that's a beautiful sound,
but when I'm layin' in my bed at home,
and my wife and I hear a wolf howl,
it means we better
hit the floor running,
because he's probably after one
of our livestock in the yard.
The concern that the
farmers have expressed
is that their cattle or livestock
will be taken by wolves.
And as a result of that,
they supported wolf hunts
in this state for many,
many years in Minnesota.
We've gone back and we've reviewed
some of the data on this.
There are 165,000 cows and cattle
in wolf territory
in the state of Minnesota.
And that's the principle farming group
that's concerned about depredation,
or the taking of livestock by wolves.
What we learned last year,
and this is very typical...
in 2012, there were
only 81 verified cases
of livestock losses
in the state of Minnesota.
That's 81 out of 165,000.
Now in our judgment, that doesn't
constitute the basis for a hunt.
We understand farmers
are making a living,
we understand many of these farmers
are using non-lethal
techniques, not all,
we strongly urge the USDA
to work more closely
with these farmers,
and the DNR to ensure
that they're taking all
non-lethal actions possible,
and that could mean different
lighting techniques,
flaggery, which is simply small flags
that seem to discourage wolves,
llamas, guard dogs, burroughs,
we know they work, a lot
of research has been done,
both in Minnesota and Wisconsin,
and out west.
Non-lethal methods are effective,
but when they don't work,
we understand the need at times
to take offending wolves,
but that doesn't constitute
the basis for a hunt.
If you've got a wolf, you know,
moving around your farm land,
you need to do something
to strengthen your boundaries,
and reinforce your territory,
so that wolf knows
when he's transgressing
out of his range.
There's the emotional level,
where when our livestock
get predated on,
that we don't overly react emotionally
out of old stories.
So it's negotiating that space, too.
We got lots of folk who are,
sort of, crazy wolf-lovers,
and don't necessarily
always want to appreciate
the reality of what
wolves mean in the world.
Yes, they predate. They are hunters.
They're carnivores.
I handed out for you a story
from the April 7th, 2012 edition
and so you don't have to read
it, I'll just kind of read you
a few quotes out of it.
I had this constituent,
and this is what it says,
she was pruning some
bushes near her deck,
stood up and turned around, and quote,
"and there was a big,
black wolf baring his teeth,
very close, just a few feet away."
She took a few steps towards the house,
but to her dismay, she saw another wolf
smaller, grey, and mangy-looking
about eight feet away,
between her and the house.
She slowly backed away from
both animals to her truck,
as she unlocked her truck, she said,
"the wolves hunched down
and growled at me."
That's a quote.
When she got into her truck,
she honked the horn,
but the wolves stayed put
and barked at her.
Members, that's a real experience,
that are happening, maybe not every day,
but every week
where wolves really live,
because they're over-populated.
The secretary will take the roll.
That was it, so,
they were done, it was a done deal.
And I wasn't sure
what I was going to do.
I left there and I thought,
oh my goodness,
what is going on? And I
approached the legislature,
his name is representative David dill,
he is a democrat out of crane lake,
and I approached him
in the hall near the elevators
and I said, have you considered
the ecological benefits of the wolf?
You know,
even if you're a hunter,
even if you're an angler,
no matter who you are, whether
you're a wildlife viewer,
a hunter, an angler, somebody who
believes in keeping ecology intact,
you have to believe that the wolf
is a necessary part of that.
And he basically said to me,
"oh, nobody's talked about that."
And then he kind of caught
himself, 'cause he realized,
well that's a reason
to have somebody testify.
And he started panicking, seriously.
He was running from the elevator button
when it didn't come right away
to another elevator button,
saying, "there will be
a wolf hunt this year."
And I looked at him, 'cause
he like running away from me,
and I was the only one in the hall,
and I'm a short-statured,
small-statured woman,
and he was much taller, and I said,
I'm not chasing you.
You don't have to run.
But I think he knew that
he was basically facing
what he was gonna face soon.
This year, wolves lost
their endangered species protection.
Wolves keep forests and streams healthy,
they're wilderness allies.
50% of wolf pups die of starvation,
and many wolves are poached.
While Minnesota's original plan
had a five-year waiting period,
a new wolf hunting and trapping bill
is now being passed by the legislature
with no regard to its impact.
We are recklessly
endangering our wolves.
Tell governor Dayton
to stop the wolf hunt.
We are about to lose all that
we worked so hard to save.
Don't silence our wilderness.
Studies suggest that
the wolf became the dog
when wolves began to follow hunters
to scavenge on the kills
that they had left behind.
And in the process, some became isolated
from other wolves, and
migrated along with people.
And over time, the human family
became their pack.
Good girl.
Say goodbye to mama, come up.
I'm gonna miss you.
Be good.
Be a good girl.
I think it's safe to say 700, at least,
wolves were killed this season.
So if you look at the rough numbers,
it's about a fourth of the wolves.
- Right? Is that fair?
- Yeah.
A quarter of the wolves.
So, you know, I guess the argument
that a lot of people have
who are concerned about this
is that that's a lot of wolves.
- What...
- and even if it's a thousand,
which would be a third
of the population...
- which it could be.
- That's still within the range of...
of what's been identified as, um...
a number that...
that may be sustainable.
Has anybody ever stud...
studied long-term effects
on wolves and wolf packs when you go in
and you start taking out pack members?
There's been studies looking at...
at wolf pack dynamics, not specifically,
not necessarily, you know,
measuring this influence
of hunting or trapping, but, you know,
through radio-collared
studies of wolves,
there's been, um,
documented, high turn-over rates
in wolf packs.
So there is a high
mortality level there,
there already without
hunting and trapping,
wolves can get hit by cars,
they can get trapped
for depredation control,
they get killed by other wolves,
and there is this
you know, pretty steady change-over
in wolf pack structure.
But I've never...
I've never seen,
and you may have something,
but I've never seen,
you know, long-term research done.
'Cause we're talking statistics,
we're talking... right.
Yeah, I mean it's... and I...
and yeah, there... that has not,
like I said, has not been
studied specifically.
Whether or not hunting and trapping
has an influence on the
stability of wolf packs,
population wide,
I mean certainly on an individual level,
you're gonna kill a breeding animal,
but there's other animals
in the population
that come in and replace those animals.
The DNR never, um,
brings any attention to that fact that,
you know, it's not just
blatantly killing animals,
it's... it's actually wiping out
this very cohesive system
that packs have.
We've lost sight of that
a bit in our thinking
about management
of wildlife and management
of wolves today.
Clearly with the wolf hunt mentality,
and talking to Dan stark at the DNR,
you know, they think about...
they think about the wolves
as, you know, just numbers.
They don't think about them as being
feeling, sentient beings who,
if you take out... certainly if
you take out the top member,
the breeding pair,
it's devastating to the pack,
but even if you take out
other members of the pack,
it's... it's not like you
come in and replace these,
you can't replace a relationship.
You can't... you can't replace the value
that that one wolf has in the pack.
Here is an array of portraits,
wolves from the past
in the neighborhood.
It was a core pack of eight or so,
with 19 wolves that we counted
over the years when this was done.
These I think around 15,
with just personal names
for me to remember.
Broken foot, crooked ear,
blind one-eye, beautiful one,
this one was the papa.
This was the Alpha male that was shot
before the hunting
started, illegal hunting,
it was shot illegally not far from here.
I was very familiar with 19 wolves
here on Ravenwood, one year,
when they were really doing well.
Lots of deer around.
I photographed each one,
gave each one a name,
had a little portrait of each one
with a little name underneath.
The Alpha male was killed by a hunter
less than a mile from here.
I know who did it.
I asked them to be careful,
I talked to them before the hunt.
They were setting up their hunting camp,
I said, please be careful, there
are a lot of wolves here,
I know it's tempting.
This is long before the wolf hunt.
It's hard to talk about this.
This was about three years ago.
And, uh... we found that, uh...
the Alpha male, blackie,
was killed of this pack,
the wolf I'd been
photographing and watching
for three, four years.
Biggest footprint I've ever seen on
a wolf. Interesting looking wolf.
He was pure black,
and I watched him turn grey.
But he'd been radio-collared.
The hunter didn't want
anyone to find out
where he killed the wolf,
so he snipped off the radio
collar and dropped it off
near Ely to throw off the signal.
I know, basically, who did it.
Uh, changed my life,
changed the wolf... the wolf pack
was totally different after that,
totally, they seemed to disperse.
Everything was different.
I couldn't make hide nor hair of it.
They... they disappeared.
Uh, everything changed.
I changed.
I have not really photographed
wolves since then.
It broke my heart.
It really destroyed me, in some sense.
I've not been the same.
It... it broke... it drove me to tears.
Stop the hunt!
Stop the hunt!
Stop the hunt!
Stop the hunt!
Stop the hunt!
We know in Minnesota the one
survey that was conducted
by the department of natural resources
before the hunt began.
In that single survey,
79% of the respondents
opposed the season, yet
they went ahead with it.
Stop the hunt!
Minnesota is special.
We are special here because
we have always had wolves.
When they were down in 1970,
the endangered threatened species act,
in my opinion, was written
with the wolf in mind.
And we were the only state that had 'em,
and the reason we had 'em, wasn't
'cause of anything we've done,
it was because we had wild lands
where they could find refuge.
You know who I feel like
I'm fighting to protect
the environment from?
The DNR!
Hello, this is Jane Goodall.
I really wish I could be in Minnesota
to greet you in person,
but I am thinking of you.
There you are, gathered
to make your views known
to those who have the power
of making decisions.
They're absolutely neat, your wolves.
The only population
in the lower 48 states
that wasn't exterminated.
I personally have
a real love for wolves.
They show all the characteristics
of loyalty and courage
that we admire in our own domestic dogs.
They have similar emotions,
such as contentment and fear.
They know suffering and pain.
It's time that recreational
hunting of wolves
and other forms of
persecution came to an end.
And you, in Minnesota,
by insisting on a just
wolf-management plan,
can lead the way.
I would not kill a wolf.
I know that, because
he's here for a reason,
just like I am.
We all are here for a reason.
But we need to acknowledge that.
And then we went to
the fond de lac reservation
and we had a ceremony honoring the wolf.
Um, it... actually,
that was extremely moving.
Um, it was sad to me, because the...
the Ojibwe culture
really values the wolf,
and the people there, um...
they were talking about how
the wolf would hide in caves,
the wolf would escape. They were...
they were trying to think
of any way that they could
cope with the fact
that these wolves were gonna be killed.
By the time we drove back
to the twin cities that day,
November 3rd, 2012,
we'd already had seven wolves killed.
I think it was Edward Abby
said something about
if we destroy the last
of the wilderness,
I mean, we destroy the very,
we're threatening the very idea
of freedom itself.
It's what makes us a people.
It's not just some
abstract thing out there
for recreation to go visit in a canoe,
or backpacking or something,
it's what we are as a people.
And we need to hang on to it,
we've got to fight corporations.
We've got to fight this
recreation industrial complex
that's threatening these precious
wild lands that are so diverse.
The foundation that... that
supports our being here today
is all the micro-organisms in the soil
and the plants and the
animals that walk on it,
the animals that swim
and the animals that fly.
We're all intertwined,
it's that great web of life.
In Mahingan, the wolf, he's our brother,
he's right there with us.
We walk the earth with him.
I found that there are
many indigenous cultures
in the world that have
always revered the wolf.
I interviewed chi-Mahingan,
which means "big wolf"
from the red lake nation.
For the Ojibwe people,
there's no separation
between the wolf and them.
The wolf holds the medicine
and teaches humility.
You know, one of the first
designs that was created
was a circle.
And everything after that
was placed inside the circle.
And therefore, everything
moves in the circle.
Even the human,
from childhood to childhood,
the seasons go in circle.
All the stars, the sun,
the moon, the earth,
it always moves in a circle.
And what that creates
is what they call a rhythm.
There's a universal rhythm.
And I... and I kinda joke
about that, too, you know,
saying everything tries to be round,
they say everything a Indian
does tries to be round.
I try to be round.
They are, traditionally
Indians are round.
You have continuity.
Today they told the animals
to take care of their brother,
the human being.
the human being would not have survived.
The animal people, yes,
we will watch our brother.
We will give them our hide,
we will give them our flesh.
We'll give them our bones
so they can live.
So we know that, said the animal people.
And today we're gonna pay
the animal people,
especially the wolf,
we're gonna pay him back
by killing him.
when I think of...
The role it has in bringing us back
to our own center of integrity,
which means wholeness, basically.
Where our own regenerative health powers
can find their balance again.
In that sense, medicine is a catalyst.
And I see the wolf,
in a sense, one can say
the wolf is medicine.
But then that raises,
for me, another question,
which is, well what are we ailing from?
What is the ailment?
And I think when one
looks around the lands,
across the world, there is one,
in this time we live in,
the ailment that we...
we struggle with, is fear.
It is fear of the enemy. It is fear of
the neighbor. It is fear of the self.
It is fear of power.
It is fear of love.
It is fear of so many things.
Fear of the loss of livelihood,
in the case of those living
directly with wolves,
and all these fear elements, for me,
are directly embodied by the wolf.
The wolf is a great mirror towards us.
We have so many similarities,
and as you talk about
in that Ojibwe myth,
the wolf is, in a sense, our partner,
and our brother, and was in the past.
And I think going forward, there is,
if one looks at the wolf
as a medicine in that sense,
there's really much that we can learn,
in our current society, from the wolf.
Inspired by the idea
of the wolf as a symbol of medicine,
I decided to go to California
and spend time with the group
that is doing something
very unique with wolves,
wolf-dogs and people.
That was nice.
Thank you, wow, I feel special.
A wolf rehabilitation center
in Acton, California
that believes strongly
that the wolf has great value
and is a teacher that we can learn from.
And we're at a wolf hike they do.
Each month, they'll take people
to see their wolves and wolf-dogs
and teach them about wolves.
They rehabilitate these animals,
and then they work with people
and inner-city youths,
and people with PTSD, it's quite
extraordinary what they do.
We have the kids come in, they're
coming from all different backgrounds,
most of them are at-risk youth
coming from inner-city situations.
They've come from gang violence
and that kind of a thing, and
they come in with their walls up,
always needing to protect
themselves, make sure they're safe,
they come in, they've got their
attitude, they've got their swagger
goin' on, and you know,
they're like comin' in
and they're like, "whatever,
what do you got to teach me?"
And they come in,
they got their, you know,
earphones in and stuff, we go,
"take your earphones out," you know,
"hand 'em over,"
"you're gonna stand here,
you're gonna sit here
and we're gonna make a circle."
"And we're just gonna
get really present."
"And the minute that
they all truly drop in,
and let go of that stuff
and center themselves,
the pack will actually begin to howl."
And this has happened numerous times,
and every single time the kids go...
"Oh my God!"
And for the rest of the program
they're putty in our hands,
it's incredible.
Oh, what a vicious wolf,
yes you are.
Yes you are.
You're a big vicious wolf.
And inevitably, they'll pick one or two
particular wolves that they really feel
a connection with because of the story.
Then when they finally
get to meet that wolf,
and they get to sit with that wolf,
and they get to look into
the eyes of that wolf,
looking into the eyes of a wolf
it's like you're really
seeing your own soul.
And that is incredibly healing.
You take a look at this, its posture,
and how big it is, and you would
automatically be scared of it,
but in reality it's just...
just a loving creature,
it just... it just wants to be loved
like anybody and anything else,
it just wants to be loved.
It wants to be...
The de-listing of wolves.
You just have to... you
just have to really just...
You just really just...
have to really...
if you really wanna help...
That's love right there.
Get my psychiatrist.
This is where I come, specifically,
besides the walking, is quite nice,
where things do feel better.
When I think about
crisis-es in the world,
crisis-es happening around me,
especially with the wolves,
I feel better here.
And it helps me.
It's a time of re-evaluation.
That's what the wolves taught me.
In an odd way, right?
In a very odd way,
this whole wolf hunt
has made me confront things
that I don't have answers for.
My investment and telling the story,
and seeing it was maybe wasted.
There's a lesson there,
I have to get beyond that.
I have to think about that a little bit,
I'm pretty angry.
Anger is not a solution,
and something you shouldn't
carry around with you.
I've been gone a lot because of that,
choose to, certainly
during the hunting season.
The pups are born,
there was a den nearby,
there were pups born, they're out there.
Uh, I'll think,
well, like the first hunt,
the last wolf
I photographed was blondie.
That was a wolf that was
shot, and she was a pup.
She was nine months old.
I'm afraid to bond to these animals.
I've bonded to every, I knew,
I've probably known 30, or 40 wolves
like friends, over the years,
and I'm afraid to do that now.
It's been a couple years now
and it's not getting any better.
I came back to Minnesota
for one last interview with Jim
before I was to wrap up the film.
But with another wolf hunt
on the horizon,
it was a bit of a somber reunion.
But just as we were about to pack up,
Jim, with his unique ability
for resilience,
said he had something
he wanted to show us.
Something he had just found
that he hadn't
shared with anyone before.
And I wondered in that moment
if Jim, too, was looking for some hope.
I can't explain it,
it happens to me a lot.
I don't know what it is.
It isn't psychic, it's something else.
Just curiosity, because I'm so curious,
I eventually ran into
something interesting.
I don't think this den
necessarily pulled me
psychically, like "come see us, Jim,"
but it almost feels like that because
it's happened to me enough times,
and especially here.
So just up around the corner,
I looked down and I saw the
grass was all matted down,
I thought, someone
came here for a picnic.
Except nobody comes here.
It was very unnatural looking,
so I just took... followed the trail up
and looked a little bit further,
and saw chewings on the tree.
I thought beaver?
Wolf den?
Too fantastic.
Maybe fox or coyote.
Came up,
saw this,
virtually the minute I saw this den
within the minute, almost 15 seconds,
I was standing on a very
supple twig, branch,
it let loose as I started
walking toward the entrance,
just to look, I mean, I was 30, 40 feet.
Snapped me in the eye and it felt
like a hammer hit me on the head.
So you've got the mixture of exaltation
of seeing a wolf den,
the same time
getting spanked in the eye.
Just about knocked me out,
I knew I had a pretty
serious eye injury,
and it just came to me, you're
not supposed to be here.
I wouldn't have stayed here anyway,
'cause you can't be around wolf dens
without them possibly moving,
and I wanted to get out of here quick.
But the eye being injured by this twig
was too much to comprehend.
And I didn't know what to think,
except, is this another message?
Is this, come look at,
come, here's the den,
but don't come in.
As an investigative reporter as
I am, you wanna get the story,
you wanna tell every bit of the story,
but I'd done that in the arctic,
crawled into the den in the arctic,
and the wolves stayed there
the whole summer.
They didn't move the den,
they didn't leave.
But they were like family to me,
they trusted me.
These wolves don't trust me.
I haven't seen them with my eyes.
I've not seen the mother or father,
I don't know who these wolves are.
I've seen them on the trail cam,
but I've never seen them with my eye,
haven't heard them howl.
So it's haunting,
it's nearly haunting to me.
So it's like finding
a treasure under your bed
that was always there,
I'm trying to think of another analogy,
in your cupboard,
you find a stack of gold,
or a Rembrandt painting.
And I didn't know what to do with it,
except just get out of there quickly.
'Cause I know if I stayed,
they'd move the pups.
Did you hear that?
What I've learned in life,
I'm almost 70 years old now,
and I've learned that you really have
to come in through the back door
to change people's attitudes.
You can't confront it head on,
and convince someone to stop drinking,
stop smoking, stop speeding,
stop killing wolves.
You... have to somehow
come in the back door.
When I met you,
you're the only person I've worked with.
Uh, why?
I don't... I just had
an intuition that you,
and your message, and your
movie could make a difference.
So find that back door. I don't
know what that back door is.
That's what I thought I've
been doing my whole life.
I'm not sure.
I get a lot of beautiful letters.
I don't know.
It's easy to be discouraged.
But I have to think that there's hope...
here's hope.
We'll see, we'll see.
Then, the news came.
On December 21st, 2014,
a federal judge threw out the
Obama administration decision
to remove the grey wolf population
in the Great Lakes region
from the endangered species list.
A decision that would ban further
wolf hunting and trapping
in the three states, Wisconsin,
Michigan, and Minnesota.
U.S. district judge, Beryl Howell
ruled the removal was
arbitrary and capricious,
and violated the federal
endangered species act.
She concludes,
"at times a court must lean
forward from the bench
"to let an agency know,
"in no uncertain terms,
that enough is enough.
And this, is one of those times."