Anyone who is fascinated by wolves, as I am, will know the name Dutcher. Specifically, Jim and Jamie Dutcher, who brought wolves into the lives of millions of people through their film Wolves at Our Door. It’s often easy to forget how misunderstood wolves once were in European-American culture. With a few exceptions, like Aldo Leopold, our conception of the wolf had more in common with Little Red Riding Hood than anything else.
Building off of Leopold’s work -- and, later, Barry Lopez -- the Dutchers were among a small group of people who were able to change that, transforming many people’s conception of the nature of wolves and revealing the intelligence and social complexity that infuses their lives. Today, we need the Dutchers more than ever, as wolves have once again become the focal point in a conflict more cultural than ecological. With the forcible delisting of wolves in the West, more than 1,000 wolves have been killed by hunters, trappers, and government agents in the last year.
So I was delighted to learn of the release of the Dutchers’ newest book The Hidden Life of Wolves. Not only does The Hidden Lives of Wolves feature the Dutchers’ stunning images but it also discusses the practices of ranchers that are already successfully coexisting with wolves. NRDC also promotes coexistence, and the policies that allow ranchers practice it. Our new film Wild Things shows how these practices can work, saving the lives not just of wolves, but coyotes, mountain lions, and bears.