BBC films wolf doc in Pendleton

<p>The BBC Natural History Unit (Gordon Buchanan, left, Susanna Handslip, center right, and Mike Kasic, right) interviews Ron Gillett of Stanley, Idaho, on Tuesday about the Canadian wolf issue that has many in the Northwest up in arms.</p>

Amid the hustle and bustle of the Pendleton Round-Up, the BBC made its way Tuesday to interview Ron Gillett, anti-wolf activist, for a coming documentary.

It just so happened that the crew could find Gillett at Round-Up, said Susanna Handslip, documentary producer. 

“It was great to come down here and experience this because it is a Northwestern icon,” she said.

Two of the three crew members had never been to a rodeo and saw Round-Up as an opportunity to get a feel for Western culture.

Gillett was an outfitter in Idaho from the early 1970s until 2005. He guided bighorn sheep hunting trips, as well as float trips and fishing excursions on the middle fork of the Salmon River. Gillett said he now rents cabins to hunters near Stanley, Idaho. 

The documentary, addressing the return of wolves across the planet, and more specifically to Washington, will be broadcast on BBC1 and the Discovery channels, according to a synopsis of the documentary. 

“We went to Washington because wolves are returning now and naturally,” Handslip said. “We also went to Idaho and Alberta because they are places that have had wolves for awhile.”

In Washington the crew will follow the Lookout and Diamond packs near the states’s northern border. The Lookout pack, established in 2008, has only a few wolves left; the Diamond pack is doing well, Handslip said. 

The Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment gray wolves currently occupy Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and parts of Oregon, Washington and Utah, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

That portion of the wolf population was delisted from the Endangered Species Act in April. 

Gillett will serve as one of the anti-wolf voices in the documentary. The BBC team continues to interview wolf advocates and opponents for a balanced view of the wolf issue in the West.

“We need the whole range of opinions,” Handslip said.

They estimated the documentary will reach as many as 40 million viewers when it airs in early 2012. 

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