Wolves at Our Door is a good film about the subject, but with substantial flaws at its core.
To be fair, the wolves are as portrayed; strong, capable carnivores with complex social lives and a reputation which is undeserved. Also, the footage of the wolves is well done.
But all is not well here.
I remember the first time I heard that Disney's True Life Adventures had made footage of lemmings leaping to their doom over cliffs, something which I later discovered that they don't do intentionally, by filling buckets with the rodents and tossing them in the sea. Few things on the screen are as they seem, apparently. Even in the case of wildlife documentaries such as Wolves at Our Door.
For many years, I worked for the Wolf Education and Research Center, the non-profit created to take care of the Sawtooth Pack after Jim Dutcher completed filming Wolves at Our Door. Doing so has given me some insight into both wolves and the work of Jim Dutcher.
The Sawtooth Pack were never really wild. They were born in captivity in Canada and purchased by Jim Dutcher for the film.
During the filming, a black wolf named Aipuyi was euthanized upon orders from Jim Dutcher, against the suggestions of the vet and handler he had hired to care for the wolves during filming. The film gives the impression that the Sawtooth Pack was given to the Nez Pierce tribe in Idaho, but this isn't the case either. The wolves were sold for tens of thousands of dollars to a non-profit organization hastily created to save the wolves, after Dutcher had commented that euthanizing the wolves was an option he was considering. The wolves came with a restrictive agreement which gave most photographic rights to Dutcher. The non-profit group couldn't even use images of the wolves on merchandise in order to support itself or the wolves.
The whole sordid affair came out on the internet, and one can still find references, comments and articles about the issue if one searches. The Internet has a long memory.
I'm almost sorry to say that we -should- view "Wolves at Our Door." It's probably the one video in recent times which has done more to educate people about wolves than most others. But remember, it -is- about the wolves and their plight, and we should always carefully consider if, in the case of wildlife documentaries, the ends justifies the means.
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