Wild Things 2013
Distributed by Passion River Films, 154 Mt. Bethel Rd., Warren, NJ 07059; 732-321-0711
Produced by Molly O’Brien, Daniel Hinerfeld and Lisa Whiteman
Directed by Molly O’Brien and Daniel Hinerfeld
DVD, color, 88 min.
High School - General Adult
Agriculture, Wildlife Conservation
Date Entered: 05/08/2018Reviewed by Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State University Libraries, Bowling Green, OH
From the 1880s to the 1930s, all predators were seen as bad. Some species, notably the gray wolf and the mountain lion, were hunted to near extinction. In 1905, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) established a program to kill predators in order to aid Western ranchers. This program became USDA Wildlife Services. At the request of the livestock owners, Wildlife Services will attempt to eradicate predator populations in order to reduce herd predation.
The reintroduction of gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park and in Idaho wilderness areas in 1995 remains controversial. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) feels that finding means for ranchers, livestock and predators to live together on the range is a better solution than continuing to use Wildlife Services to eradicate predators. Many wildlife biologists, conservationists and an increasing number of farmers and ranchers agree with NRDC. The livestock industry is effectively subsidized by the taxpayer to remove a threat to its business by using Wildlife Services. In return for the use of Wildlife Services to control predation, the livestock industry makes sure that Wildlife Services remains well funded.
As the film points out, the restoration of gray wolves in Yellowstone has had a positive effect on the overall health of elk and bison populations, and far-reaching effects on the Yellowstone ecology. Though more than $1 billion in taxpayer monies have been spent since 1905, the coyote population has tripled.
Proponents of predator/livestock coexistence explain and demonstrate several means of predator control in the film. There seems to be no substitute for getting humans out on the range with the livestock, though the use of guard dogs and increased electric fencing also are promising. As an introduction to predator control in the West, Wild Things is recommended. NRDC and its allies makes it clear that there are alternate means of controlling livestock predation other than using Wildlife Services to annihilate problem, or potential problem predator populations. Greater acceptance and support for alternative predator control will need to be adopted and promoted by large players in the livestock industry before major changes will be made.