By Peggy Mackenzie
“It doesn’t take much research or understanding to see how important wolves are to the natural balance of things,” states Julia Huffman, of the most persecuted animal on earth. Huffman is an independent filmmaker and acting instructor, from Pocahontas County, now living in Sherman Oaks, CA. She recently completed the award winning documentary film called “Medicine of the Wolf,” “to bring to the forefront of people’s hearts and minds the value and beauty of wolves, our similarities to them, and their importance in our ecosystem.”
The Greenbrier Watershed Association will be showing “Medicine of the Wolf” at The Lewis Theatre on Saturday, June 18, at 7 p.m., followed by music by the Nightcrawlers band with special guest Dave McCormick. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Several Lewisburg locations are selling tickets: Edith’s Store, Harmony Ridge Gallery and Plants Etcetera.
When Huffman became aware that wolves had been removed from the endangered species list in 2011, alarm bells rang in her head when almost immediately, despite opposition by a majority of the people, state legislatures authorized wolf hunts in several states. As a result, more than one-third of the gray wolf population on the mainland – 1,800 animals – were killed. An estimated 3,000 wolves survive, primarily in Minnesota and the Northern Rocky Mountains. Huffman is determined to screen “Medicine of the Wolf” across the country and educate the public about the true nature of wolves.
The real story about wolves, Huffman states, “is that wolves are not the big, bad, Red Riding Hood evil creature. They don’t want to be around people. Wolves are extremely afraid of people. When a wolf is trapped, a wolf doesn’t try to attack you, a wolf cowers.”
In recorded history, there have been only two documented fatal wolf attacks in North America, one in Alaska and another in Canada. Several nonfatal attacks have been documented over the years. The percentage of wolves predating on livestock is less than 1 percent.
Huffman is under no illusion why the old mythologies about wolves continue to persist.
“The wolf has somehow become a token that politicians have given to lobbyists who feed their campaigns,” Huffman said in a press release. “The cattle industry, the Deer Hunters Association and the Safari Club are powerful groups with lots of money to donate. It’s becoming the American Way now, money talks, democracy is dwindling.”
“Our society is still recovering from the propaganda from early settlement times, when wolves were competition,” said Huffman from the Pocahontas Times. “Our government basically wiped out wolves.”
Huffman chose the rugged back country of northern Minnesota to film the documentary. The film centers on the remarkable, world-renowned environmentalist and National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg, who has photographed, studied and been on the ground with wolves for 45 years – longer than anyone in history. In the film, Brandenburg reveals the world of the wolf as never seen before. The film also has a crucial message for the viewer: The gray wolf must be preserved on the endangered species list.
An anonymous reviewer described “Medicine of the Wolf” in this way: This movie was one of the best I have seen for portraying the wolf factually and without a distortion of details. All sides of the wolf issue were shown, from those who love them unreasonably to those who hate them in the same way. The truth about the wolves lies in the middle and focusing on reality is the only way we can save the animals from slaughter.
Huffman is the daughter of Beth Little, of Hillsboro, and Bill Huffman, also of Pocahontas County. She graduated from PCHS in 1986 and attended Bethany College on a partial athletic scholarship and received a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism in 1990. After working in television production for four years in Huntington, she moved to Los Angeles. In California, she got some acting credits and worked as a producer with HGTV for four years. In addition to her film work, she teaches acting at her studio in Burbank, CA.