A film showing tonight will bring a heated environmental debate from the wilderness of Idaho to the screen at Campbell Hall.
“Cost of Freedom” follows wolves relocated from Canada to Idaho as part of an effort to restore endangered species in the United States. In 1995, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service captured 66 wolves in Canada and released them in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Filmmaker Vanessa Schulz said that as part of the relocation, the wolves were given special “experimental-nonessential” status, which permits the killing of wolves if they attack livestock.
“The wolves stalk the livestock because we’ve replaced most of their natural prey with cows and sheep,” Schulz said. “In Idaho, they follow the migration of elk and deer into the lower valleys, where they come into contact with humans and livestock, and every time there’s a depredation of livestock, there’s an uproar in that community.”
The 36-minute film will be shown during the second night of the “Best of the 28th Annual Banff Mountain Film Festival” program tonight at 7:30. It is the only film that shows both nights.
Schulz said the film, which she made with the help of only two assistants, includes interviews with Idaho ranchers, environmentalists and hunting advocates.
“But the main character is a female wolf who was brought down from Canada,” she said. “I followed the families she established and what ultimately happened to them.”
Schulz said she agreed with idea of relocating wolves but not with how the plan is being carried out.
“Because the consumptive minority groups have political control, that’s why we have this insane management of wolves that’s extremely heavy-handed,” she said. “They get captured regularly; they get monitored, tagged, collared, followed and relocated; packs get broken up and ultimately killed. … My problem with relocation is that it focuses on population numbers and doesn’t take into account what individuals go through.”
Schulz said she tried to keep the film unbiased, however.
“I’ve done a previous film that was an advocacy piece, and I saw how you can alienate people when you have too strong a message,” she said.