Clash: Encounters of Bears and Wolves
Submit Your Questions for Filmmaker Bob Landis

Wildlife cinematographer Bob Landis

Wildlife cinematographer Bob Landis

Wildlife cinematographer Bob Landis once taught high school math in Billings, Montana, filming wildlife on the side. But once he sold his first commissioned film, he decided to change course and focus solely on filmmaking.

Now he spends day after day filming in Yellowstone, living out of an old log cabin that has been updated with some modern amenities. His long list of credits includes NATURE’s In the Valley of the Wolves.

Submit your questions for Bob Landis in the comments field below, and he’ll respond during the week of January 18.

Josh asks:

I was wondering if you knew how the druid pack is doing now?

Bob says:

Josh,

The Druids are in a bit of a decline. They’ve been hit hard with mange. I saw them this morning. Their alpha male 480 has left (possibly because all the females in the pack right now are his daughters). Two new male suitors are dogging the pack so there is sure to be a new alpha male soon. We are just about to enter the mating season so all this activity is picking up.

A note on mange – a male from the Molly’s pack had such bad mange last year he hardly had any hair at all. But this year he is doing quite well and his coat looks great.

Steven asks:

I was wondering, if you and the crew were the only “meat” around, how did you keep from becoming wolf or bear dinner?

Bob says:

Steven,

Filming in Yellowstone is like no other place. Most of the time, I am filming from the road right next to tourists. I’m near my vehicle, and the animals are used to seeing people in that context.

As for the danger from wolves and bears, there was one bear-related death in Yellowstone about 20 years ago. It’s a very rare occurrence when humans turn into bear food in the park. And I’ve never been threatened by wolves even though they sometimes come in quite close. The fact that bison, elk, bears, and wolves are so accessible here is one of the most extraordinary things about Yellowstone.

Sandy Sisti asks:

I was wondering how long it took you to accumulate all the footage for your new film.

Bob says:

Sandy,

There’s footage in CLASH that goes back four years. I go out to film every day but often film an animal that doesn’t get into my current project. Then I have that footage to use in the next film. But, really, it takes quite a few years to get all the bear/wolf footage I need for an hour-long film.

James Whalen asks:

I was in Yellowstone on a 6-day backpacking trip in the Gallatin area, in 1994, before wolves were reintroduced. Back then coyotes were numerous, and every night we heard coyotes howling away. Is it true that the population of coyotes has been cut in half since wolves were reintroduced? I am a fan of wolf reintroduction because this makes Yellowstone a complete, balanced ecosystem.

Bob says:

James,

In the early days of wolf reintroduction, there was a reduction of coyotes of about 50 percent in Lamar Valley, and those numbers were simply extrapolated throughout the park — even in places where there were no wolves at all. But now, fifteen years on, coyote numbers have come back (even in Lamar), and park biologists now believe that there are at least as many coyotes as there were before wolves were reintroduced. I see about five or six from the road every day.

Chris Stark asks:

I am making my first trip to Yellowstone and the Tetons this summer. I enjoyed “In the Valley of the Wolves”. Is the Lamar Valley the best place to view wolves in Yellowstone or are there other places to view?

Bob says:

Chris,

The Lamar Valley is part of what we call The Northern Range, and the road that runs from Mammoth through Lamar all the way to Cooke City will afford you the best chance to see wolves in the park. Wow, your first trip to Yellowstone! That takes me back. Have a wonderful time.



Mike Wagner, Founder and Executive Director, Heart of the Wolf asks:

What do you think of the tragedy of the wolf pack that was annihilated and was a part of Yellowstone as a result of the Montana wolf hunts as of late?

Bob says:

Mike,

I was very disappointed when Montana Fish and Game had an early opening to the wolf hunt north of the park. If they had delayed that hunt until the general elk hunting season, those wolves would probably not have been outside of the park and exposed to hunting pressure. They might well have colonized the Slough Creek Pack’s territory, which had been left vacant when the Slough Creek Pack dissolved. There is still no pack that dens in that area, and we are waiting to see how things sort out this spring.

Cynthia asks:

Wondering if you have to pay for a daily park filming fee or an annual fee?

Bob says:

Cynthia,

The Park permitting system sure has gotten complicated. As an individual with a camera, which is how I work most of the time, I pay an annual fee of $200. To film with a crew, I would have to pay a location fee of $150 per day. Whenever I film in the thermal areas, I must have a park monitor with me and that’s an additional $60 per hour for a minimum of three hours. That usually ends up at about $500 per day. The filming regulations and fees in National Parks are continuing to evolve.

Carol asks:

My best friend Alan Sachanowski lives there in Yellowstone. He has taken many pictures of a bear called Rosie. My question is have you ever seen Rosie? Alan said that he did not see her last Year.

Bob says:

Carol,

Rosie is a Black bear, and her name comes from the fact that she lives in the Roosevelt Lodge area near Tower Junction and along the Canyon Road. She has a red ear tag, which makes her quite recognizable. She was named about 20 years ago, and it’s debated among the community of photographers if “Rosie” is the same bear from year to year. I did not see her last year either. Black bears usually live about 20 years, so we may meet a new “Rosie” this spring – which might well be one of her offspring.

Kayla asks:

I was wondering, how do you become a wildlife cinematographer?

Bob says:

Kayla,

My own career began as a hobby. It just got out of control. I finally accumulated enough footage to make my first film and that got me started. But I recommend the old-fashioned approach of apprenticing with an established cinematographer or enrolling in a real film school. Montana State University has a good program specifically for wildlife cinematography. Good luck!

Floyd Bond asks:

I had the pleasure of meeting you a couple years ago on a very cold morning when we were photographing wolves. About how many hours of shooting do you put in to make a one-hour film for television?

Bob says:

Floyd,

I generally put in about 300 days a year and 8 to 10 hours a day depending on the season and the length of daylight. It takes me about two to four years to make an hour of television. When you are out to Yellowstone next time, I look forward to meeting you again along the road – and almost all the mornings are cold!

Jack Bean asks:

Do you need two objective lens covers for your Swarovski EL’s? I will bring them up for you when I come up again soon if you do. I saw a photograph of you with your binoculars on and they were missing.

Bob says:

Jack,

Great to hear from you! I don’t have those lens covers because I find that they get in the way. But thanks for your kind offer. And thanks for the great “Jack’s Jerky.” It always good to feed the photographers if not the bears!

Rebecca Mottin (Ontario, Canada) asks:

Do you have any plans to use more Hayden wolf footage in future projects? I made sure to tape tonight’s broadcast since it was much better than what we came home with on our little video camera.

Bob says:

Rebecca,

Yes, I am currently working on a film that follows the story of one black wolf that was born into the Hayden Pack in 2007. But now the Hayden pack has left the park and been replaced by the Canyon Pack that’s moved into Hayden Valley. It takes a lot to keep up with these wolves! We plan to start editing this story in April and it may be on the air about this time next year. Stay tuned!

Bob Safay asks:

Like some of the others I would like to know what HD Cams you used, what audio equipment, lens and filters.

Bob says:

Bob,

I use a Sony HD Cam and a Canon zoom lens 40 x 14. This one lens is what I use 99 percent of the time. There are filters built into the camera and I don’t use any additional ones. To record sound, I use a Sanheiser shot gun microphone and sometimes record sound right off my camera.

Linda asks:

One question: what is the most interesting and/or amazing animal centric event that you have witnessed?

Bob says:

Linda,

What I really enjoy the most is filming animals just having a good time. They work so hard to make a living that I always feel good when I get to see them relax. My favorite moments from this film are that big bear playing in the water and the wolf pups of the Hayden Valley Pack playing by the river. I don’t think I could pick just one favorite moment after all these years!

Wayne Gary asks:

The show ended with a bear protecting a kill on Christmas. What happened to the bear? Did he go into hibernation or stay out all winter?

Bob says:

Wayne,

I saw that bear a week later heading up toward the rim of the Yellowstone River Canyon. That’s the last anyone saw of him that winter so we think he denned up there somewhere. He sure took us all by surprise on Christmas morning. Christmas is usually for wolf watchers.

Dale Klemm asks:

The end of your documentary showed a grizzly protecting a carcass on Christmas Day. My family was fortunate enough to view the same scenario in the Lamar Valley on Christmas Day 2008. Was this sequence shot during this time frame and was it the same bear?

Bob says:

Dale,

I filmed the Christmas bear at Geode Creek about 15 miles from Lamar on Christmas Day 2008. I didn’t hear of another bear like this, and this behavior was so unusual that I certainly would have heard about it. It must have been the same bear. Is there any chance you were over by Geode Creek? It’s halfway between Mammoth and Tower Junction.

Bob Hilger asks:

How are the cougars doing in yellowstone in relation the influx of the wolves? I know there are not a whole lot of lions in the park to begin with, and I am sure the wolves will not hesitate to kill one if they had have a chance.

Bob says:

Bob,

Interesting question. The park has done extensive research on cougars both pre-wolf and post-wolf, and the numbers seem to have stayed about the same. Wolves and lions use different territories and different habitats. But at a carcass, wolves will certainly chase off a lion. I have see this personally. It was very early morning at Slough Creek and three wolves found a lion at a carcass. They chased the lion and it raced off and up into a tree. I know of another case of wolves killing a litter of four lion kittens that were four or five months old and one case of a lion killing a wolf. I don’t know all the details of the latter but I bet it was a lone wolf at a carcass. I think the latest count on the cougar population is about 60 individuals and some of those range outside the park.

  • Josh

    I love your “In the Valley of the Wolves” film. I was wondering if you knew how the druid pack is doing now?

  • Tom

    What HD cameras are you shooting with these days ?
    Your work is stunning Many Thanks for many an enjoyable evening

  • Steven

    Hi Bob,
    I was wondering, if you and the crew where the only “meat” around how did you keep from becoming wolf or bear dinner?

    “A young Indian boy asked his elder, “GrandFather, why is there evil?” Grand Father said there are two wolves inside us all. One wolf is good and one wolf is evil. The young boy didn’t understand until Grand Father said,”It depends on which wolf you feed.”

  • Sandy Sisti

    Hi Bob,

    I love your films, especially “In the Valley of Wolves”. I’m really looking forward to watching “Encounters of Bears and Wolves” tomorrow night and I was wondering how long it took you to accummulate all the footage for your new film.

    Thanks!

    Sandy

  • james whalen

    Hi Bob I was in yellowstone on a 6day backpacking trip in the gallatin area, in 1994, before wolves were reintroduced.Back then coyotes were numerous, and every night we heard coyotes howling away. Is it true that the population of coyotes has been cut in half since wolves were reintroduced?I am a fan of wolf reintroduction because this makes yellowstone a complete, balanced ecosystem

  • chris stark

    Mr Landis,
    I am making my first trip to Yellowstone and the Tetons this summer. I enjoyed “In the valley of the Wolves” Is the Lamar Valley the best place to view wolves in Yellowstone or are there other places to view?

  • Marc & Barb

    Just curious what camera equipment you are using these days. Have you considered using the RED? We appreciate your continued dedication to sharing the beauty and drama of Yellowstone, and the Lamar Valley in particular. Simply outstanding work! Hoping for the recovery of the Druid Pack. Can’t wait to return to the park.

  • Mike Wagner

    Mr. Landis,

    What do you think of the tragedy of the wolf pack that was annihilated and was a part of Yellowstone as a result of the Montana wolf hunts as of late?

    Mike Wagner
    Founder and Executive Director of Heart of the Wolf Organization

  • Cynthia

    Mr. Landis,
    I think your films are outstanding and want to thank you for working day in an out and in very harsh conditions to share with the public. Wondering if you have to pay for a daily park filming fee or an annual fee?
    Thank you,
    Cynthia

  • Carol

    My best Friend Alan Sachanowski he lives there in Yellowstone.
    He has took many Pictures of a Bear called Rosie.
    My Question is have you ever saw Rosie? Alan said that he did not see her last Year.
    You are a great Wildlife cinematographer. Keep up the good work.

  • kayla

    Hey there,
    I was wondering how do you become a wildlife cinemaphotgropher?

  • Floyd Bond

    Hi Bob, I had the pleasure of meeting you a couple years ago on a very cold morning when we were photographing wolves. About how many hours of shooting do you put in to make a one hour film for televison? I really enjoyed In the valley of the wolves,great job.

  • Oldtymrs

    Bravo, bravo on your latest film, Bob! The footage on “Clash” is awesome! We’ve met you several times in Yellowstone, but you have met so many people. We thoroughly enjoy your films and thank you for your dedication and talent! We’ll see you again in the park!

  • Jack Bean

    Hey Bob

    Do you need two objective lens covers for your Swarovski EL’s? I will bring them up for you when I come up again soon if you do. I saw a photograph of you with your Binoculars on and they were missing. It was my greatest pleasure meeting you years ago Bob and I am pooud to call you my friend. I have admired everything you have done and been proud to have been with you on one incredible morning filming. You are the Greatest Bob.

    Jack

  • Rebecca

    Hello Bob,

    I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your new documentary, especially seeing footage of the Hayden wolf pack. My parents and I watched those wolves for several days during the summer of 2007, along with hundreds of other people. It was a lifetime highlight for me for sure! There were so many other people there that summer that you probably don’t remember us, but we enjoyed chatting with you as well and have been fans of Bob Landis films ever since. You really capture the beauty that is Yellowstone.

    Do you have any plans to use more Hayden wolf footage in future projects? I made sure to tape tonight’s broadcast since it was much better than what we came home with on our little video camera.

    Rebecca Mottin (Ontario, Canada)

  • Bob Safay

    Bob, excellant show. Like some of the others I would like to know what HD Cams you used, what audio equipment, lens and filters. Also, what ratio of footage shot to footage used? Thanks so much for being out there. Bob

  • Wendy

    Hi Bob,
    Congratulations on another outstanding film. I only have one complaint – I wanted it to be ten times as long! Thanks for your hard work and dedication. W

  • karyn

    Amazing!!! This is a must have for my family. When will this be out for sale??? Not at pbs yet. Thanks, karyn

  • Linda

    Hi Bob,

    Thank you for your dedication in making such educational films. I spend time in Yellowstone every year and have had the pleasure to meet you, albeit quite briefly. One question: what is the most interesting and/or amazing animal centric event that you have witnessed?

  • Steve Laughrun

    Hi Bob, You have once again captured the essence of Yellowstone’s wildness. The many hours of dedicaion you give to your craft are the subject of hours of enjoyment to those of us who love the wildlife of this great place. You film wildlife as it is played out on a daily basis in the wilds of Yellowstone. Do you know when this film will be available for purchase? and will it be in blu-ray HD? Thanks again for many hours of dedication so that we can enjoy the grandeur this is Yellowstone. See you along the Lamar!! Steve

  • Bob Ehli

    Bob,
    I just finished watching “Clash.” What a great piece of work! You are to be commended for the work you do in bringing the wildlife of Yellowstone into our homes. Keep up the good work!

  • Wayne Gary

    The show endeded with a bear protecting a kill on Christmas. What happened to the bear? Did he go into hibernation of stay out all winter?

  • Dale Klemm

    The end of your documentary showed a grizzly protecting a carcass on Christmas Day. My family was fortunate enough to view the same scenario in the Lamar Valley on Christmas Day 2008. Was this sequence shot during this time frame and was it the same bear?

  • Bobby

    I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary about bears and wolves.What is the current status of bears and wolves in and around yellowstone national park? keep up the outstanding work.

  • bob hilger

    Hey Bob, how are the cougars doing in yellowstone in relation the influx of the wolves. I know there are not a whole lot of lions in the park to begin with, and i am sure the wolves will not hestitate to kill one if they had have a chance.

  • Wesley

    Yeah Bob,

    Great shots. I was wondering how you think the bears are going to respond to the dewindling white pine nut as a resource? Do you think there will be more wolf-bear interactions as a result? What are your thoughts?

  • Dan

    Bob, I raise bison in Alberta Canada. Encounters of Bears and Wolves footage is fantastic. Thanks for the work that you do.

    Dan

  • Jessica

    I’ve been to Yellowstone Many times but this pass year was the first time I was able to take my spouse He’s never really been “out doorsy” but he fell in love with the place. We had a lucky and great surprise on our way out of Yellowstone at sliven pass when a young black (male I think) wolf walked right out in view of our car I was only able to get two pictures before he slowly disappearedin to the burnt out forest. I was wanting to know if there is a known wolf pack in the area? That and I wanted to brag:)

  • Ron Cisar

    Bob…I met you at Jim Halfpenny’s place a few years ago when Jim and I were giving a program on bears. I am currently teaching biology and environmental science at a local community college. I just wanted you to know that your outstanding cinematography has been an integral part of my curriculum as I discuss the Yellowstone wolf reintroduction and the interspecific competition that now occurs due to the wolf’s presence in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Kudos on such outstanding footage and know that you are helping to make a difference in the lives of so many as you educate them on the interactions occuring in our oldest national park. “CLASH” is a wonderful update on the lives of the griz and wolf. Continued success in what you do and thank you for dedicating your life and passion to the wild. Walk Softly on the Earth. RC

  • Dante’

    OUTSTANDING JOB!

  • hank

    Bob, congratulations on a wonderful effort! I cannot wait for more, and i hope that PBS gets it DVD ready for sale, and on iTunes ASAP!
    see you around the park.

  • Jay

    Bob, wonderful film. There was some footage of a black bear up in a pine tree gathering cones, or their seeds. What’s the relationship between black bears and grizzlies–are they in the same territories, do black bears avoid grizzlies, what happens if they meet?

  • Paul Hood

    Hi Bob,

    I had the privilege of seeing and photographing Scarface this last July 1st and 2nd 2009. It was great to see him in your film. I have several shots that show the scars on both sides of his face and some looked very fresh. Would it be possible to visit with you on my next trip to Yellowstone this coming summer? Keep up the great work.

  • Lucas Cusatis

    Mr. Landis,

    Thank You !

  • Doug Nunemaker

    I remember seeing some of that original film footage Mr. Landis sold to make the openning scene of a movie called “Sourdough” as I recall. I was a student in his high school math class in Billings, Montana. The footage was of a Kodiak bear taking down an elk or moose in a river in Alaska. I have been following his career ever since I was his student and have revelled in his success as he changed directions completely and made himself a premier wildlife photographer. He was a great math teacher too – and I’m just proud to have known him.

  • Alex Wallach

    Amazing footage of grizzly bears and reintroduced gray wolves in the spectacular Yellowstone National Park. I was wondering if you’ve ever seen any wildcats in the park such as bobcats, lynx, and cougars?

  • Adorah

    How long do bears live? Anmd how long has ” Scare face ” lived?

  • Jamie Wilson

    I was wondering if you have ever had to kill an animal in self defense while you were filming?

  • duha syar

    I was wondering if you can make more films about a species of animals cause thats what i like.and also…..
    Are ur films made in the wild or do you get zoo trained animals for ur film?plzzzz anwser peace.

  • Rob

    After decades of nature shows from exotic locations, I find it thrilling to know about animals in places I’ve actually lived in. I guess keeping warm is the biggest barrier to North American wildlife filming. Some shows I’d like to see are species family overviews for the Rocky Mountains: i.e. hoofed animal family (habitats and migrations), nocturnal predators (cat family, weasel family, owl family), ravens (they are so common and so inquisitive, it’s hard to believe nobody’s done a show on them), songbirds and rodents (who’s singing out there).

  • sean haacke

    my question is do u have any feed back on what i should do 2 better myself for wolf study i would really like 2 know thanks .

  • Jay Erekson

    Bob Landis,
    Do you get down to Billings on occasion, or do you dedicate every day to your love of filming wildlife?
    From one of your calculus students many, many, many years ago.

  • barbara lindstrom

    I loved Linda Hunt’s voice on the Christmas in Yellowstone film and wondered if you would ever consider auditioning or considering another female voice for any of your upcoming films?

    You can contact me at the above address of listen to my voice at http://www.barbaralindstrom.com

    I think a strong female voice is a plus on nature films and more women should be considered…..hint, hint.

    Happy holidays and hoping to see many more of your films in the future!

    barbara

  • Ben Shelkowsky

    Hi Bob, I volunteered for the Yellowstone Assn. the winter of 2007-08. I stayed at the Buffalo Ranch and have seen you on the road many times as well as attended many instances of you sharing your latest footage of the Druid pack at the ranch and in Gardiner at Jim Threepenny’s place.. At that time your footage highlighted us all of the story of “the Casanova”. I plan to visit Yellowstone in a few weeks and learn of the current plight of the few packs in the Lamar Valley. I wish you well and maybe I’ll see you on the road. All the best to you and all the rest of the wolf watchers. Ben

  • Ben

    Hi Bob, I volunteered for the Yellowstone Assn. the winter of 2007-08 at the Buffalo Ranch. I saw you working numerous times and witnessed your many showings at the ranch and in in Gardiner at Jim’s place. I plan to visit Yellowstone in a few weeks to learn about the current situation in Lamar. Maybe I’ll get to meet you again on the road. All the best, Ben

  • Sandy Houston

    Nature, by all intense and puposes, is cruel and unbalanced, both with humans and animals. The strong prevail – the weak fall, with no remorse for the latter. I enjoy the wilds and I know “nature” happens, but it’s not something I get any pleasure in watching, or trying to understand. Example, a poor fawn lying victim to a bear or a wolf pack, is not something I could stand by and watch, without trying to intervene, regardless of my own safety. I do not know how you can sit there and watch it happen, and profit from filming it – yes, it’s life, but no, it’s still very wrong. Sorry.

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