HOWL Colorado

Cody, WY billboard taken down amid controversy

The controversial billboard in Cody, WY, incorrectly attributed to HOWLColorado, is no longer up after Lamar Outdoor Advertising made the decision to cancel the contract and take down the sign. 

Whether the decision sparks additional debate about freedom of speech vs. the advertising dollar is yet to be seen, but one thing is sure, the billboard is down and a day of confused reporting and attributions is coming to a close.

The billboard, which showed four dead wolves lined up, and the words “This is what is happening to your Yellowstone wolves. Do you care? Go to projectwolf.org,” caused a lot of activity as anti- and pro-wolf commentators jumped in to the online fray.

Cody Enterprise, a local newspaper, reported late last night that we, HOWLColorado, were responsible for the billboard. This isn’t true. We support the message, and if we had the resources, we might certainly consider a billboard campaign (though perhaps not as graphic), but no, we signed no contract, offered no financial backing and offered assistance only in terms of being a media contact to answer wolf-related questions.

The resulting outcry has been a truly mixed bag. Due to the confusion, HOWLColorado did receive a few emails and comments this morning. 9 complaint emails, 8 support emails and a decent amount of social media interaction, mostly positive.

The newspaper page itself is remarkably positive towards either free speech or the billboard itself.

In stark contrast, the owner of the property on which the billboard was placed says he received 150 negative calls and only 1 positive call. Perhaps there is something to be said for offering support to a company when they do something you like?

Project: WOLF remains perplexing for those in Cody and elsewhere to figure out. The battle in Cody is lost, but it will be interest to see how something so ambiguous as this group seems chooses to move forward. As it was explained to me, anything can be a Project:WOLF so maybe next up will be TV ads or something less controversial like an organized walk near Yellowstone.

Either way, we at HOWLColorado will continue to support any innovative project which supports wolves, regardless of the source and encourage anyone with something they want to promote to reach out to us. We also are happy to give media interviews, solicited or unsolicited.

Whatever the fallout of this billboard has been, it is an opportunity to talk about the wolves and it would be a terrible missed opportunity not to take advantage of this.

And one lesson. Support those that go out on a limb for us. Patronizing sponsors of groups you approve of. Calling a business that takes a controversial stand for wolves. I can’t help but think that 150 calls of support to Lamar would lead to a good possibility that there would still be a sign up in Cody, WY.

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