The Green Fire Behind Lords of Nature

Have you wondered about the filmmakers of Lords of Nature?

Twenty-two years ago filmmakers Karen Anspacher-Meyer and Ralf Meyer began their quest, of engaging and motivating audiences on the day’s most pressing conservation issues. From the beginning, one story above all captured the essence of their ambitions. It was the classic nature essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain,” in which the great naturalist Aldo Leopold had a life-altering epiphany in watching the green fire fading from the eyes of a dying wolf. Karen and Ralf therewith dedicated themselves to inspiring modern generations of conservationists as the green fire had inspired Leopold. Thus Green Fire Productions was born.

And so it is, after two decades and more than twenty documentaries igniting green fires in their audiences, that the Meyers find themselves coming full circle. In their film, Lords of Nature: Life in a Land of Great Predators, they are bringing new light to the irreplaceable ecological role of top predators that Leopold himself had evoked more than half a century before.

Lords of Nature was conceived several years ago, when the Meyers caught word of the work of two Oregon State University researchers, Bill Ripple and Bob Beschta, exploring an ecological phenomenon transforming some of the great national parks of the American West. Ripple and Beschta were uncovering evidence that wolves and cougars, through their powers of predation, could ironically foster a more vibrant array of flora and fauna, from beavers to butterflies, wildflowers to willows—that these top predators could in essence grow forests, repair streams, and revive ailing ecosystems. This was science that the greater public needed to know.

But the story was more complex than just the science. The idea of bringing these big predators back as ecological lynchpins came with broad societal implications. It was this intricate story of science and society that the Meyers have set out to tell in Lords of Nature.

“We hope to see traditional wildlife management move away from artificial target numbers for predators, and move towards ecologically effective populations,” says Karen Meyer. “We also hope to encourage non-lethal approaches to reducing conflicts. By showcasing ways that livestock producers are living with wolves, we learn that it can be done—that by doing a few things differently, we can live our lives while allowing the great predators to live theirs too.”

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