Montana brothers share wolf truth
Jackson – Brothers Jeffrey and Cody King grew up on a cattle ranch in southwest Montana’s Big Hole Valley, and their experience with the area’s wolf reintroduction inspired them to create the 2011 documentary Crying Wolf: Exposing the Wolf Reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park.
Jeffrey, the 21-year-old who led the effort, says his passions are filmmaking, wildlife and truth, wherever it may be found. A homeschool graduate, he finished college in Fall 2010, earning his B.S.B.A. in business management through a distance program with Thomas Edison State College.
Jeffrey began production on Crying Wolf as a 19-year-old, and since releaseing the film online last year it has had over 85,000 views and has sold over 2,500 copies. Also, in February 2012 the film was awarded the “Best Creation Film” at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.
“Growing up, my brother, sister and I were in 4-H and we made short films and always had an interest in film making,” said Cody, who addressed the Wyoming Stock Growers Association’s 2012 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show in Jackson on June 1.
“It’s impossible to live in Big Hole without hearing about wolves, if not on a daily basis then on a weekly basis, because it’s infested with wolves,” said Cody. “What we were seeing and hearing from our neighbors directly conflicted with the lovely stories you hear about wolves in the magazines.”
In the film’s trailer, one of the interviewees in the documentary says, “If you can’t protect your private property in the United States of America, we might as well go live in Russia.”
“As many of you know, the wolf issue is laced with political corruption,” said Cody. “One eye-opening thing we found in our research was where the money came from to reintroduce the wolves in the first place.”
As part of that research, Cody and Jeffrey interviewed the man who was commissioned by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
“He found there was between $40 million and $70 million stolen from the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act, which is a sporting excise tax on firearms, ammunition, etc.,” said Cody. “It’s a fund that’s supposed to be doled back out to the states to manage wildlife, but the GAO confirmed that the FWS did, in fact, steal $40 to $70 million from that fund, unauthorized, and the primary use was to reintroduce wolves into Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996.”
“They stole the hunters’ money to reintroduce a species that is now wiping out wild game herds, and threatening their heritage,” he added.
“In 1995 and 1996, the Yellowstone elk herd was the showcase elk herd in the world, at between 19,000 and 20,000 head,” explained Cody. “In 2010, less than 5,000 were counted.”
“Our moose numbers have been hit hard, especially in Montana, where the moose harvest has dropped upwards of 40 percent,” said Cody, noting the spillover effect on local, rural economies that were previously driven by the hunting industry.
“We interviewed a business owner in Gardiner, Mont. who said they used to get 1,200 late-season elk permits for that area, and all kinds of people would flood the area in the winter to access the late hunt,” he said. “The winter economy was driven by those people, and now that late-season hunt is shut down. He and others were forced to go seasonal with their businesses.”
Wolf effects on ranching
“The most shocking thing for me, personally, was the depths to which the wolf affects the ranching industry,” commented Cody. “I knew going in that ranchers lose cows and calves now and then, as well as horses and sheep, but the stress factor on cattle from living with wolves is enormous.”
Cody said he and his brother interviewed a rancher in the Big Hole area who gave an example of wolves’ effects on cattle.
“He had 1,000 head of heifers, and he split them and put 500 higher in the timber, and the others down lower. Those that were up higher were harassed by wolves on a daily basis, and when he brought them down in the fall the ones in the timber were 64 pounds lighter per head,” explained Cody, who calculated that was close to a $30,000 loss for that producer in one summer, all because he’s living with wolves.
“And that doesn’t count the five that were killed by wolves within a month of when he shipped,” he added, mentioning another rancher near Dillon, Mont. who lost 120 sheep to wolves in one night in 2009.
“The scary thing is everything that’s happened to this point has happened exactly the way the people pushing the wolves wanted it to happen,” stated Cody. “They knew reintroducing the wolves would wipe out our wildlife and suppress the cattle industry. In fact, wolf reintroduction had nothing to do with saving or preserving the wolf.”
Cody referenced a man who gave a speech about the time of wolf reintroduction, who said the reintroduction had nothing to do with preserving the gray wolf, but everything to do with driving 30,000 ranchers off public land and out of the forest.
Cody believes the wolf reintroduction also has something to do with gun control.
“The federal government doesn’t like it when the people are armed,” he said. “As of today, they can’t come in and confiscate our weapons. What they can do is introduce a species that will wipe out our wildlife herds, to the point where, to preserve those herds, we need to shut hunting down, which is happening in some parts of Montana. To get hunting shut down is one less reason for you and I to own a gun, and that strengthens the anti-gun argument.”
Cody said he also believes the reintroduction is related to the United Nation’s Agenda 21 and its Wild Land Project, which has a goal of putting tens of millions of acres of presently settled land back into wilderness.
“It’s all part and parcel of a much bigger agenda, and has nothing to do with saving the wolves,” he said.
“We always get asked what people can do about it,” said Cody. “What we tell them is to attend meetings and hearings and testify – tell people what’s really happening. Get the word out, because there are way too many people who don’t know the depths of what’s going on.”
“Hopefully people can use our DVD as an educational tool to hand out and share to educate people as to what’s really going on,” he added.
Find more information on the Crying Wolf documentary at cryingwolfmovie.com or on Facebook. Christy Martinez is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.