LORDS OF NATURE: Life in a Land of Great Predators tells the story of a science now discovering top carnivores as revitalizing forces of nature, and of a society now learning tolerance for beasts they once banished.
Green Fire filmmakers, Karen and Ralf Meyer, follow scientists Bill Ripple and Bob Beschta of Oregon State University, two leading pioneers in the quest to decipher the great predators’ role in the web of life. Ripple and Beschta are repeatedly finding ecosystems maintained by their apex predators—and more ominously, degraded by their absence. Their bottom line reveals top predators as keystones in the stability and balance of nature. As Beschta says, “Whether it’s cougars in Zion, or wolves in Yellowstone National Park, the presence of that predator is crucial in maintaining that system through time.”
Their discoveries are both vital by nature and far-reaching in scope, echoing a mounting body of research from all corners of the globe that increasingly reveals the top predators as key drivers of the planet’s stability and diversity of life. But these discoveries have also raised the obvious question of whether and how to incorporate the big predators into societies facing conflicts and fears with their return.
Lords of Nature traces the path of legendary naturalist and writer, Aldo Leopold. What Leopold warned seventy years ago, scientists from around the world now confirm: That a land lacking its top predators is a land subject to decay. And vice versa a land with the great beasts in sufficient numbers is a land far more diverse and resilient.
Green Fire ventures to the rural communities of Minnesota, interviewing ranchers, farmers, hunters, and wildlife managers who are living among more than three thousand wolves, the highest population in the lower 48 states.
The producers also profile two of the largest sheep operators in Idaho, who are raising eyebrows with their stunning success at raising sheep in a land running again with wolves—all without killing the wolves. These success stories are serving notice that with proper technique, and a dose of tolerance, people and predators can indeed co-exist.