Every time I watch the closing scene in Wild Things, the NRDC documentary about USDA's Wildlife Services program, I choke up. Every time. Doug Smith, leader of Yellowstone National Park's Gray Wolf Restoration Project, is framed against a Wyoming forest. He fixes his eyes on the camera and asks, simply:
Do we want to live in a world where it's just all about us? You know: no mystery, nothing out there that's outside of our control. Is this earth just for us to take over? Or do we share it?
It's a moment that captures why I've chosen to devote my career to conservation, and it's a call-to-action that I'm eager to share with as many people as possible. That's why I'm so pleased that Wild Things will have its cable television premiere on Pivot TV on May 13 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
Wild Things isn't just about the USDA's Wildlife Services Program -- a hundred-year-old agency, formally known as "Animal Damage Control," that played a large role in exterminating gray wolves from the lower-48 states in the 1920s and 30s, and still kills nearly 100,000 native predators such as mountain lions, coyotes, black bears and (yes) wolves every year. It's not just a film about how wasteful the agency is, spending over $100 million dollars a year to carry out its killing program. It's also about a different way of living with native animals on a working landscape. It's about ranchers from California to Alberta to Montana who have found that using guard dogs, electric fences, and other techniques is a better path than always picking up a gun or setting a trap line. In short, it's a movie about hope.
After years of advocacy by NRDC and our partners, Wildlife Services is finally being audited by the USDA's Inspector General, an independent watchdog within the Agency. I hope that the results will put Wildlife Services down a path to reform and that, in the end, Doug Smith's words will be proven right: we will decide to share the earth.
To find your Pivot TV channel, visit: www.pivot.tv/interstitial/channelFinder (you can take action at www.wildthingsmovie.org).
Andrew Wetzler is Director of the Land & Wildlife Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council