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Animal Planet to air horrifically inaccurate special: “Man-Eating Super Wolves”

Sunday, May 25th, Animal Planet will air a special (which will be repeated multiple times over their “monstrous” week) which blatantly misrepresents wolves, portraying them as a growing danger to humans, and puts forth anti-wolf spokesperson, Valerius Geist as their primary source.

The special, named “Man-Eating Super Wolves” will air on Sunday – and while specific information about the episode is mostly absent from their web site, they did post the following in their schedule:

“Razor Sharp teeth, killer instincts, and senses so precise they hear your beating heart and your fear. They’re on the hunt, and now with numbers growing out of control, they’re threatening humans like never before.” – Animal Planet Marketing Material

Sensational drivel is probably a polite description of this.

“now with numbers growing out of control?” Really? A couple of thousand wolves across the entire country is “out of control?” Hunting quotas intended to push wolf numbers in some states as low as 160? Delisted and vulnerable to the pressures of financially-driven special interests which control the policies regarding the wildlife management of multiple states.

Worse still, the producers of this show are relying on the words and opinions of known anti-wolf spokesperson of many hunting and ranching groups, Dr. Valerius Geist (his stated expertise is in large north American ungulates).

The death of Kenton Joel Carnegie is often the poster child of the dangers posed to humans by wolves. Expert witnesses in a legal investigation of Carnegie’s death had mostly concluded that a bear was likely responsible, but possibly wolves. Carnegie’s family asked for Geist to step up to the stand and contradict those experts. Justifiably, the judge disqualified Geist as not being qualified enough to be expert witness.

The Jury did decide that it was wolves, but no science ever actually completely supported this conclusion, leaving one of the most infamous wolf attacks as at best disputed. This represented one of only two cases where wolves were blamed for the death of a human in a century or so in North America.

Interestingly, a person close to the case has indicated that the autopsy and investigation is contrary to the “facts” mentioned in the show.

So, with a clear bias, a video featuring a dubious case, fronted by an equally dubious “expert” and a sensational tone which would by itself undermine any attempt to take the program seriously, Animal Planet has stepped well over a line. They are clearly search of ratings which will still likely prove to be dismal even in the world of cable television and have embraced viewpoints which are devastating to continued efforts to seek balanced, scientifically-based, reasonable compromises which will see humans and wolves co-exist.

Want to give your feedback? 

You can use a form put together by Defenders of Wildlife: https://secure.defenders.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=2733

You can use their official viewer feedback form: http://corporate.discovery.com/contact/viewer-relations/

Or, if you are more like me, you can just email their CEO: david_zaslav@discovery.com (this is BELIEVED to be correct, but I can’t guarantee it)

This article is a critique of a show being produced by Animal Planet and Discovery Communications.

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