Having been out of the country and out of internet range for so long, I hadn’t realized that PBS had released an extended teaser and set an air date for Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom. The air date is November 14th, at 8 pm, and you can check out the preview at Gianna Savoie’s website, or at the PBS Nature website.
On her website, Gianna discusses some of the challenges of making a film about an animal that no one ever sees and that few people would recognize even if they did, mentioning that one of her objectives is to help build a wider constituency for the elusive Gulo gulo:
‘I knew from the start that this is an animal that needed its face out there and its story told…I didn’t merely want to put the species on the radar, I want to create a place for them in the hearts of the public. I want people to fall in love with them as characters, as individuals. Though this film will have a broadcast life through Nature and National Geographic Channel International, it’s the outreach I am most excited about. We are using the film in community venues to raise awareness about wolverines at a critical time — they are being petitioned for protection under the Endangered Species Act this coming winter. We can’t save a species if people don’t care about it and it’s my greatest hope that this film will do its part to help them garner a few new friends.’
In keeping with this objective, people in western Wyoming and Montana will have two opportunities to see a sneak preview of the film in early October, and to meet Gianna and some of the (human) stars of the documentary. Put it on your calendar, and if you can’t make it to Bozeman or Jackson, be sure to watch in November. Stay tuned for future screening and wolverine events throughout the Rockies in upcoming months.
In other gulo news, Colorado has declared its lynx reintroduction program a success now that the cats are reproducing faster than they’re dying. The Vancouver Sun mentions the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s possible plans to reintroduce wolverines as a follow-up to the lynx reintroduction. The article suggests that Canada might be a source for a reintroduction, just as it was for lynx in Colorado and wolves in the Yellowstone region. CDOW has still not released an official decision as to whether it will proceed with wolverine reintroduction. We await the decision, due in November, with almost as much anticipation as the listing decision, which is due in December.
Perhaps more peripherally, Yale Environment360 has published two excellent pieces recently. The first discusses declines in caribou herds throughout the Arctic. Domestic reindeer are an important food source for Scandinavian wolverines, and although I don’t know to what extent Arctic wolverines depend on reindeer’s wild cousins, caribou are probably an important food source. The disruption of northern ecosystems in general doesn’t bode well for wolverines.
This begs a larger question: who cares if the wolverine – or its entire remote and little-understood ecosystem – disappear? I have a million answers to this question, and so do Gianna and Doug and the biologists with whom I work. But for now, I direct you to another Environment360 article on how species lose their cultural significance – and the vital role that informed constituencies can play in preventing that loss from happening.
Finally, over the next week I’ll be completing the much-delayed narratives of our wolverine adventures in Mongolia this summer, where constituency-building takes on a whole new meaning – one that involves vodka, shamans, and horse-treks to the edges of the known world. Check back, and thanks for reading.