“Humans and cockroaches and coyotes are going to inherit the earth.”
— Mike Phillips
[Visit tim.blog/wolf for the most important links from this interview and my personal next steps.]
Mike Phillips has served as the Executive Director of the Turner Endangered Species Fund and advisor to the Turner Biodiversity Divisions since he co-founded both with Ted Turner in June 1997. Before that, Mike worked for the U.S. Department of Interior, leading historic efforts to restore red wolves to the southeastern US and gray wolves to the Yellowstone National Park. He also conducted important research on the impacts of oil and gas development on grizzly bears in the Arctic, predation costs for gray wolves in Alaska, and dingo ecology in Australia. These days, Mike is an advisor to the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project.
In 2006 Mike was elected to the Montana House of Representatives. He served there until elected to the Montana Senate in 2012. His service in the senate will extend through 2020.
Mike received his MSc in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Alaska in 1986 and his BSc, Ecology from the University of Illinois in 1980.
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Want to hear another episode with someone who’s working hard to save the planet? — Listen to my conversation with Conservation International CEO M. Sanjayan, in which we discuss monkey birthday cakes, storytelling, respect, common misconceptions about conservation, and much more. (Stream below or right-click here to download):
QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Visit tim.blog/wolf for the most important links and my personal next steps
- Get Involved with the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project and Action Fund
- SD31: Senator Mike Phillips, Montana State Legislature
- Turner Endangered Species Fund
- Wolf Restoration, Yellowstone National Park
- How Wolves Change Rivers, Sustainable Human
- Grizzly Bears in Northeastern Alaska by Michael K. Phillips, Cambridge University Press
- Wolf Species Profile, Alaska Department of Fish and Game
- Dingoes Vital for Ecosystem Health, UNSW Sydney
- Conservation International
- Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
- Grizzly Bear Predation Rates on Caribou Calves in Northeastern Alaska, Journal of Wildlife Management
- The Brooks Range — Travel Alaska
- The Craigheads: Conservation, Controversy, and a Classic Nat Geo Story, National Geographic
- Bears Not Attracted to Menstruating Women, LiveScience
- Denali Park
- Restoration of the Red Wolf by Michael K. Phillips, V. Gary Henry, and Brian T. Kelly, University of Chicago Press
- Nuclear Regulatory Commission
- X-Men, Marvel
- How to Properly Carry and Use Bear Spray, Outside
- Trophic Cascade in Yellowstone National Park, Access Science
- Manifest Destiny: Causes and Effects of Westward Expansion, Khan Academy
- Superior National Forest
- Endangered Species Act of 1973
- Can the Red Wolf Survive Extinction a Second Time? Sierra Club
- Thinking Like a Mountain by Aldo Leopold, Eco-Action
- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
- The Extinction Crisis, Center for Biological Diversity
- Starfish Story (aka The Star Thrower), Rebel Shoes Productions
- Could Colorado Bring Back Gray Wolves By Popular Demand? KUNC
- White River National Forest
- Little Red Riding Hood by The Grimm Brothers
- Why We’re So Divided Over Saving Wolves, National Geographic
- Law of the Jungle by Rudyard Kipling
- American Farmland Trust
- The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life by Timothy Ferriss
- Wolf Depredation, International Wolf Center
- Range Rider Program, Western Sustainability Exchange
- Fladry Fencing to Prevent Wolf/Livestock Conflict, People and Carnivores
- Archimedes’ Lever: How You Can Move the World, Eric Kim
- Horatius at the Bridge by Thomas Babington Macaulay, Bartleby
- A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold
- Who is Mike Phillips? [03:56]
- Why might a grizzly bear’s muzzle be bloodstained while its teeth are green? [07:27]
- What inspired Mike to become an ecologist who focuses on predators? [12:26]
- Is it true that menstruating women shouldn’t hike in grizzly bear country? Here’s how Mike took aim at answering this age-old question. [15:33]
- To his mind, what is the craziest study Mike has gotten funded? Two words: radioactive wolves. [18:47]
- What are the most effective deterrents, defensive tools, and practices for preventing and reacting to grizzly attacks? [20:39]
- What role do predators play in an ecosystem, and what happens when they’re extirpated from that ecosystem? [26:30]
- What is a trophic cascade? [30:11]
- Why was a 300-year war launched in the US on the once ubiquitous gray wolf, and how was this mass-scale extermination accomplished? [34:23]
- How did Mike get the opportunity to lead red wolf recovery in North Carolina and gray wolf recovery in Yellowstone? [38:42]
- What changes has Mike personally observed in Yellowstone over the past 24 years since gray wolves were reintroduced? [42:08]
- What did two wolves teach Mike about the value of private land in advancing the recovery of endangered species, and how did this lead to Mike leaving Yellowstone in ’97 to co-found the Turner Endangered Species Fund and Turner Biodiversity Divisions with Ted Turner? [45:00]
- The extinction crisis and why it matters, the likely fate of humanity should we ignore it, and what conservationists most often get wrong. [47:40]
- Does Mike ever get overwhelmed by the seemingly unstoppable harm that humans are wreaking on the planet? If so, how does he overcome the feeling and continue working to counter it? [53:06]
- Why does Mike consider western Colorado to be the last missing piece in the effort to restore gray wolves, and why should someone who doesn’t live in Colorado support this effort? [58:12]
- If we’re looking at the opportunity to reestablish a major carnivore at an intercontinental scale, how many wolves need to be reintroduced over what period of time for this to stand a good chance of being realized? [1:01:51]
- If such an initiative is successful, what would Mike hope some of its ripple effects to be? [1:05:49]
- Why is wolf restoration such a controversial topic? [1:08:06]
- How hard is it to make a living in the woods with your teeth if you’re a wolf, how often do they fail at hunting, and what two assets do they have going for them? [1:09:33]
- What are the justified and unjustified concerns people raise with regards to wolf restoration? [1:14:33]
- Tools that can be helpful toward wolf reintroduction efforts in minimizing wolf versus human conflict. [1:20:31]
- How can we incentivize ranchers to non-lethally deter predation when the path of least resistance is to just shoot the offending wolf? [1:23:51]
- What changes to the Endangered Species Act are currently being proposed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and what does Mike think will come of them? [1:29:54]
- How much of its historical range does the gray wolf currently inhabit? [1:31:50]
- Why are different animals proposed for delisting at different points in their rehabitation of their historical range? [1:32:33]
- What is the state of gray wolf reintroduction in western Colorado right now, what is the time-sensitive nature of the effort, and how can you help? [1:35:15]
- If my audience can provide $100,000 to the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund within a week of this podcast coming out, I will match that, and provide another $100,000. [1:42:11]
- Where can someone who wants to contribute more than a modest sum to this effort make their donation? [1:46:42]
- In what other ways can someone who’s strapped for cash help? [1:49:27]
- A book recommendation. [1:51:27]
- Parting thoughts. [1:53:02]
- John and Frank Craighead
- Jerry Jeff Walker
- Frank Mundus
- Warren Buffett
- Aldo Leopold
- Ted Turner
- James Cameron
- Rolf Peterson
- Rudyard Kipling
- E.O. Wilson
- Charles Darwin
- Thomas Babington Macaulay
Posted on: August 21, 2019.
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