On Location With Wolves
Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho
The foothills of the Rocky Mountains and the vast plains nearby were once home great herds of bison, co-existing with packs of wolves and Native American tribes. But armies from the east, newly-released from Civil War battlegrounds, were used as a powerful arm of the United States Federal Government. Native American occupation of the plains would not be tolerated by a nation bent on dividing, developing and owning territory. The only way to rid the land of its current occupants was to drive their very livelihood and sustenance to the brink of extinction. Bison had to be wiped out – and wiped out they were before the close of the 19th century. It wasn’t much longer before wolves also disappeared from the area.
In the wide open country behind Central Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, the film follows the Nez Perce (a Native American tribe who has occupied this area for many generations) as they reintroduce their old friend the wolf to its former place in the wilderness, where they had not been seen for decades.
A similar reintroduction project is being undertaken by biologists in nearby Yellowstone National Park. The Yellowstone biologists are witness to a vast and exciting project that will result in the return of these formidable predators to their natural habitat.
Extraordinarily, it is humans who are responsible for the animal's renaissance. After decades of work, we've succeeded in putting a symbol of wildness is back in the wilderness.
In Canada, where wolf populations are still sustainable, the wolf is under pressure from hunters, trappers, and ranchers. There, scientists have developed "soft traps" to capture wolves unharmed for collaring and population study. They measure and weigh of the animals and conduct DNA studies to look at population diversity and bloodlines. In a place where many wolves still survive, the focus is on developing partnerships between conservationists, government, and economic interests, so that the population will continue to thrive.
Alaska's Northern Slope
For most of the last fifty thousand years, Asia and America were joined. During various ice ages a land bridge between Alaska and what we now call Siberia formed. Eons ago, the horse and camel migrated across it from America to Asia, while caribou and bison moved in the opposite direction from Asia to the New World. Among those animals were migrating herds of muskox, buffalo and caribou. As the vast herds forded wide rivers and spread out across the tundra of Alaska's North Slope, some species turned south, but the caribou and muskox remained. Accompanying these herds were those creatures that depended upon them for survival, including small bands of human hunters, and their kindred spirits, the wolf packs.
A National Wildlife Federation Presentation in collaboration with Primesco Communications. Producer: Goulam Amarsy. Associate Producer: Diane Roberts. Director: David Douglas. Distributed by National Wildlife Federation and Primesco Communications. Japanese Distributor: Cinema Japan Co., Ltd. Executive Producer: Christopher Palmer. Narrator: Robbie Robertson. Composer: Michael Cusson.
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