Help us tell the story of Denali's wolves!
In Alaska, wolves are among the most desired species for wildlife viewing. Denali National Park has long been recognized as one of the best places in the world for people to see wolves in the wild and, more than anywhere else in Alaska, the eastern region of Denali National Park can provide accessible wolf viewing opportunities as visitors travel along the Park Road.
But in recent years, the likelihood of seeing wolves in Denali has decreased significantly. Since 2010, wolf viewing inside Denali National Park has dropped from 44% of visitors to the Park reporting wolf sightings in 2010, down to only 4% in 2013. The wolf population in the Park, though stable overall, declined from an estimated 143 wolves in 2007 to 75 in 2019 —almost a 50% decrease. Several high-visibility and long-studied eastern park wolf packs have seen their numbers dwindle, or have disappeared entirely.
Although there are many factors at play, this situation has been linked partly to the repeal of a habitat “buffer zone” that closed certain areas adjacent to the eastern boundary of Denali National Park to wolf hunting and trapping year-round. Established in 2000 to protect Denali wolves in their winter hunting ground and thus the viewability of these wolves within the park, this buffer zone was eliminated by the Board of Game in 2010, which further voted to prevent any reconsideration for at least six years. There is no habitat buffer zone in place today.
We believe now is the time to rekindle conversations about this issue, and that documentary film holds unique potential to engage a broad range of invested community members and to inspire statewide audiences to seek a collaborative solution. So we have requested the assistance of an independent, third-party filmmaker (see bio below) to tell this complex story, incorporating a variety of viewpoints from all sides and investigating historical, scientific, and community concerns around the issue. Our hope is that this film can serve as an educational and bridge-building tool in screenings and events across Alaska, in an effort toward reconciling this historically fractious issue.
But filmmaking is expensive, and the project needs your help to get started!
Meet our Film Crew
Ramey Newell: Director/Producer
Ramey Newell is an award-winning filmmaker and photographer who splits her time between British Columbia, New Mexico, and Colorado. Her films have been screened at festivals and in galleries, museums and other art spaces throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, including: the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; Mountainfilm in Telluride, Colorado; SCINEMA International Science Film Festival in Australia; Alchemy Moving Image Festival in Scotland; and Antimatter [Media Art] in Victoria, Canada. Ramey’s experimental and documentary films have also earned accolades such as the Jury’s Stellar Award (Grand Prize) at Black Maria Film Festival (2018) and Best Director at Mirror Mountain Film Festival (2017). Her editorial photography has been published in regional, national, and international magazines including Backpacker and New Mexico Magazine, and her art photography has been exhibited at venues such as The Polygon Gallery in Vancouver.
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Ramey gained an early appreciation for open spaces, forests, and mountains that has persisted throughout her adult life and permeates much of her creative work. When she’s not making art, she enjoys hiking in deserts and high country, rock climbing, fishing, gardening, and traveling with her husband and two spotty dogs. Ramey holds a BFA in Photography from New Mexico State University, and later earned a Graduate Certificate in Interdisciplinary Documentary Media Practices from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She was also a 2016 Flaherty Seminar Fellow, and is a 2019 IWFF Filmmaker Fellow.
Nicole Schmitt - AWA Director of Programs / Pre-production Coordinator
Nicole Schmitt is an avid outdoorswoman based in Anchorage, Alaska. As the Director of Programs and Development at the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Nicole manages statewide programs that connect people with wildlife topics and policies. From public comment campaigns to community citizen science projects and educational initiatives, Nicole believes that conservation coalitions come from all corners of Alaska. The daughter of an avid hunter on the central Kenai Peninsula, Nicole understands the importance of wildlife in the state’s culture and economy, and is compelled to progress reasonable wildlife management plans that uphold science, subsistence, and fair chase standards.
Prior to the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Nicole utilized her skills in environmental science and philanthropy to work for the Global Greengrants Fund, Yosemite National Park, Safeguard Marine, and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. She split her undergraduate degree between the University of Denver and Peking University in Beijing, China and speaks Mandarin Chinese. Out of the office, you’ll find Nicole training for the Alaskaman triathlon, or hiking, climbing, kayaking, and biking around Alaska with her labrador retriever, Kodiak.