Gianna Savoie just arrived from New York and ran through the clips of Nature’s Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom that she’ll be showing tomorrow at NRCC’s Wolverine Night – the clips are fantastic and the film looks amazing! I don’t want to ruin anything by describing the clips, but I will say that in ten minutes of footage, she covers everything from adorable kits frolicking, to full-grown wolverines chewing on dead moose, and manages to feature most of the foremost wolverine scientists and enthusiasts. The cinematography is spectacular. The full film will be showing at the International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula on May 8th and 15th. It’s already won awards, and after viewing the clips today, I understand why.
Speaking of wolverine enthusiasts, Doug Chadwick is on his way – presumably with a car packed full of copies of his new book The Wolverine Way – with his friend and star of the book Rick Yates, who has tracked wolverines in Glacier National Park for decades. Tomorrow will see the arrival of Jeff Copeland, and between Gianna, Doug, Rick, Jeff, Jason, and myself, this gathering represents a significant concentration of American wolverine devotees. The energy is exciting.
Among those devotees, Jason’s dog Dusty should probably be mentioned. On my first wolverine excursion in August of 2006, Dusty accompanied the expedition as we hiked 21 miles to a series of GPS points from M2’s collar. At dusk on the first day of the trip, as I was washing dinner dishes, Jason suddenly shouted, “Dusty! Dusty, no! Come back!” in a tone of such panic that I dropped the soup pot; Jason turned and shouted, “It’s the —-ing wolverine!” A few feet downslope of the campsite, Dusty and a compact dark shape were running toward each other. Dusty, who weighs about 60 pounds, is obedient enough that she came back when called; as Jason later said, the wolverine could have easily damaged or killed her if they’d gotten into a fight. The wolverine circled our camp for nearly 20 minutes as we sat – Dusty on a leash – and watched. This was the experience that made a wolverine devotee out of me, and it seems to have done something similar to Dusty, who sat watching the clips as Gianna played them today in our office. Dusty was enthralled with the entire film, but she clearly recognized the wolverines when they came onscreen, jumping up repeatedly to press her nose to the computer monitor when the animals appeared. Something about this species evokes intense curiosity in anyone who is exposed to them. When even the dogs are inspired, you know you’re invested in something worthwhile.