5-part wolf series wins first place for Public Service campaign in 2019 IPC awards

Contact: Steve Stuebner, writer and producer, Life on the Range, 208-484-0295
Gretchen Hyde, IRRC Executive Director, 208-866-2466

IRRC 5-part wolf series wins first place in Idaho Press Club awards

BOISE, Idaho – (May 4, 2020) – The 5-part educational video series “Wolves in Idaho,” produced by IRRC’s Life on the Range crew, received a first place award in the PR Division of the Idaho Press Club 2019 contest under Public Service campaign.

The results of the 2019 Idaho Press Club awards were made public last week online. Normally, the Press Club announces the winners during a well-attended banquet in Boise on a Saturday night, but that event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Life on the Range crew also received a third place award for the story, “Beaver Dam Analogs catching on in Idaho,” in the Best Online-only Video – Public Affairs category.

Steve Stuebner, writer and producer of Life on the Range, Chris Ennis, director, videographer and editor, and Gretchen Hyde, executive producer, all shared credit for the award. The IRRC board of directors and partner groups sat through many hours of editorial review and provided suggestions and feedback along the way.

“It was a major group effort,” Stuebner said. “The whole topic required a lot of research, thought and consideration.”

The Life on the Range crew worked in the field talking to ranchers, hunters and wildlife experts throughout Idaho for three years to produce the 5-part series. The project represented an unprecedented investment of time and resources by IRRC since the Life on the Range project was launched 10 years ago.

“We felt that we needed to devote significant resources to the wolf series because we were hearing concerns from ranchers and hunters all over Idaho, and none of the media were covering that side of the story, only sugar-coated stories about wolves in Yellowstone National Park,” said Gretchen Hyde, Executive Director of IRRC.

“We put a lot of time and thought into how we would shape the series, and Steve Stuebner’s leadership in suggesting an historical, educational approach seemed to work well. Steve did an enormous amount of research to reveal what happened with wolf populations over time, and how the impacts to ranchers and hunters increased as wolf numbers continued to climb year after year.

“Many of the unforeseen impacts – issues beyond direct mortality caused by wolves – had never been documented before, but as we talked to ranchers throughout the state, many of the same issues came up over and over again,” Hyde said. “Things like cattle attacking herding dogs after being attacked or harassed by wolves, reduced weight gains by cattle and sheep on the range, low pregnancy rates, and more.”

Hyde has been sharing the wolf series with K-12 school teachers across Idaho to share with students and discuss how wolves are affecting their lives.

The 5-part educational wolf series may have had an impact on wolf management discussions at the Idaho Legislature and before the Idaho Fish and Game Commission as policy makers are more well-informed about the widespread impacts and difficulty in reducing wolf numbers. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has increased bag limits and expanded seasons for wolves in Idaho in light of the continued challenges in reducing wolf numbers and impacts.

“We wanted to provide a broader understanding about what the impacts are and what can be done to control wolf numbers,” Hyde said. “There are no easy answers.”

Through a widespread, coordinated effort to engage partner groups in the ongoing challenge of managing wolves in Idaho and across the West, the wolf series has seen a tremendous level of public engagement, not only in Idaho but around the world. The whole series has received more than 350,000 views on YouTube, and there are thousands of comments that have been made on the YouTube videos.

The Adams Publishing Group, including newspapers in Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Logan, Utah, Bozeman, Mont., and Nampa, Idaho, shared the 5-part wolf series through Intermountain Farm & Ranch print and online editions as Life on the Range rolled out the series in April and May 2019. The Twin Falls Times-News print and online editions, also shared all five parts of the wolf series in summer 2019. The newspaper coverage helped spread the word to hundreds of thousands of additional readers as part of IRRC’s education campaign.  

You can watch the 5-part wolf series at this link: https://idrange.org/range-stories/north-idaho/wolves-in-idaho.