The Wolf That Changed America
What's Your Connection to Nature?

    

After his ‘Lobo’ adventure, Ernest Thompson Seton went on to become a world famous writer and naturalist. © Philmont Museum and Seton Memorial Library 

In 1893, Ernest Thompson Seton traveled west to New Mexico with a singular purpose: to kill the wolf named Lobo. However, as The Wolf That Changed America reveals, the time Seton spent there profoundly transformed his worldview.

After Seton’s encounters with Lobo, he returned east and set about recording his adventure. But in the story he wrote, Seton himself is the villain, and Lobo is the hero. His book, Wild Animals I Have Known, became a worldwide success and turned Seton into a major celebrity.

Seton found new purpose in speaking out against the destruction of America’s wilderness. He lobbied for the creation of new national parks, and fought for protections for wildlife.

For Seton, it wasn’t just a question of saving the wilderness. He believed that people had to experience nature in order to care about it — that it should be a part of everyone’s upbringing.

What’s your connection to nature? Why do you value it? Use the comment form below to share your own experiences of the natural world with NATURE viewers everywhere. Tell us your favorite stories and memories of the wilderness and wildlife around you. 

  • Steve Laurin

    I appreciate the outdoors every day. Rain or shine I take the dogs out for a hike right after school gets out. Often times we find ourselves in a state park. Our favorites are the nearby Pittsfield State Forest and October Mountain State forest. We also enjoy geocaching in these hills too. I can’t imagine being without our daily hikes; the dogs for the exercise, and me for serenity.

  • Floyd Bond

    I am very grateful to have the outdoors as part of my life. Weather it might be hiking in the Cascade mountains or taking photographs along the Oregon Coast,or hiking in the coastal mountains.The serenity and beauty of the forest says it all. Being able to unwind after a busy day at work and surround ones self in the beauty of nature is a great feeling of freedom and enjoyment.

  • Felicia Kongable

    I have come to feel a profound tie and love for all living things. I know that I am connected to them genetically and this also gives me a spiritual connection. I try to savor the beauty of the natural world around me every day, however small a slice of that world I may be able to witness. I try to pass this on to my high school students, to even get them to sense the deep-seated peace that comes from viewing a natural vs. man-made landscape.

  • Dodie from Irvine

    We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves.

    And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.
    ………..Henry Beston … 1928

  • DJ

    I’ve always loved and respected animals, even ensuring that my Eagle scout project more than a decade ago would be something that would not just benefit the people in the community, but wildlife as well. Even though I have had many wonderful experiences with nature in my life, nothing prepared me for the experience I had this summer at a preserve in Colorado when I was licked, nipped and flopped upon by 100 lbs of pure, beautiful timber wolf. Getting up close and personal with a creature (actually several, but one in particular) was more than a dream come true. He had such life and strength in his eyes which I was able to take with me after I left.

  • Cheryl Crone

    I love being “outdoors” ,the seashore,desert,mountians or just my backyard garden.It’s all full of wonder and marvel. I have been a hospital nurse for thirty years. When it’s ” my time to go” I’ll be running away from the hospital, not to it. The last thing I see is not going to be white walls. I think of Steve Fossett, his last view was the majestic wilderness. I hope I am so blessed, to end in such beauty.

  • roy brewster

    I am part of the natural environment, not just living in it like an alien or superior being.
    No matter how hard we attempt to separate ourselves from Nature it remains in our DNA.
    I am not aware of anything in Nature that wishes to be something it is not. Nature seems to be content with its self and that simple contentment will share its peace with us. Providing we pay attention.

  • Kathy Michel

    This documentary brought me to tears. I live in Idaho and there is a current rage against the wolves by the farmers. They are killing them left and right without any regard forthe animals. They feel it is their “right” to protect their livelihood. They should see this documentary. Perhaps it will change them as it did Ernest Seton. Perhaps the current laws(made by man)will change.

  • Ginny

    I need nature and animals as much as I do air to breath, water to drink and food to eat! Six years ago I flew off the interstate and landed in a wheelchair (paralyzed below my chest). There are places I will never see again but while it isn’t always easy to get to places in a manual wheelchair alone I manage. Just being outside lifts my spirit as does seeing great shows like this episode.

  • Nanci from NY

    Wolves are a beautiful and necessary part of the natural world, and I hope someday to see some in the wild, roaming freely in all their glory. I’ve always felt a deep connection with nature and firmly believe that all life is sacred, interconnected and interdependent. The Woodcraft Way that Seton created about a decade after his Lobo experiences resonates well with me, for it fosters living in harmony with nature and appreciating the wild places of the world. I was surprised that the documentary didn’t mention that the Sioux had given Seton the name “Black Wolf”, and that he preferred this name to his own.
    I hope more people watch this documentary, especially those who only see wolves as a vicious predator to be exterminated. May it open their eyes in the same way that Seton’s were when he had his epiphany.

  • Jon Davis

    Although I have traveled all around North and Central America and to Europe and N. Africa and have lived in Alaska and Swedish Lapland, I have lived most of my life in southern New Mexico or west Texas, an area of unparalleled natural beauty.

    I have camped in every wilderness area in the state that allows camping (a couple of areas do not because they are inside nat’l wildlife refuges), but we need to do more and now. NM has waited for more than 25 years for a comprehensive wilderness bill for BLM lands, and we now have a congressional delegation consisting of five conservationists; tt’s time to get our wilderness house in order.

    And through groups like the Southwest Environment Center (www.wildmesquite.org) and the NM Wilderness Alliance (www.nmwild.org), we are trying to preserve the best of what remains in NM, including to support the re-introduction of the Mexican gray wolf. But we need national support to do this.

  • BlueCornMoon

    I’ve always had a deep respect for & love of nature & animals.I feel connected to them all.I believe all animals have souls. I grew up in a rural area & usd to walk with my dad in the woods.He taught me to love nature.We had 13 outdoor cats & a dog. I learned the names of all the local birds & animals.I read every animal story I could get my hands on.I got Seton’s “Wild Animals I have Known” out of the local library when I was about 8 or 9. That’s when I first read Lobo’s story & was moved to tears.I learned to love & respect wolves. Then I read every Seton book I could find. I believe nature is sacred,all life is connected & we’re all part of the natural world and should care for & preserve it.I have 2 indoor cats & 5-6 bird feeders & also feed squirrels & chipmunks.I had my backyard certified as a wildlife habitat. I also support numerous wildlife organizations. I enjoy walking & hiking outdoors,observing wildlife. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon & Rocky Mt National Park where I hand fed birds & animals that weren’t afraid of people.If I’m having a bad/stressed out day all I need to do is to go for a nature walk or watch Animal Planet,National Geographic Channel or Discovery Channel & I’m fine again.

  • ChristinaB

    I feel that i have grown up with a very strong emotional connection and empathy for nature, and believe that if more people were to feel an emotion towards it then maybe we could stop the destruction of it. I have yet to leave school but yet i feel burdened with so much more than the usual teenager . Being able to express my feelings is a great relief and it also relieves me to know that there are people out there who feel the same way as me even if i feel alone in it all. This documentary was a real tear jerker and it took me a number of days to recover. In some ways i feel left out from the usual teenagers becuase i feel so strongly about something that others take for granted. Having a connection with nature is a positive and uplifting emotion and i hope that everyone may feel it one day.

  • ron manna

    putting donkeys in with cattle might keep wolves away.
    donkeys dont like canines.please pass this on to those
    folks idaho.this works in fl. ron

  • Rob M

    What an amazing story about Ernst Seton. Although I may not be seen as the enviromental type, I am a huge history/biography nut. What I find so inspiring about Seton’s story is his prescence of mind to document this story as it unfolded. This would not seem to be a personality trait of a man of his background. Yet after this event in his life took place, he became a changed man. He did the right thing, and devoted the rest of his life to his true passions.

    Thumbs up to the Nature program & PBS for giving us this type of programing.

  • carlos solis

    Los humanos invadimos su natural habitad nosotros los estamos molestando a ellos los lovos solo se defienden de los acoso de los humanos. tenemos que recordar que los animales llegaron primero y despues los humanos nos transformamos en seres pensantes aungue no actuemos como tales, algun dia espero que no sea muy tarde alghin nos ilumine con sabiduria divina para poder entender mejor a todos los animales y quiza asi encontremos las soluciones a todo el desequilibro ecologico que hemos creado. un diez de calificacion por la programacion gracias!

  • Barb Dion

    I have been fortunate enough to have had the time to see things many Americans have not as I did not rush into “conventional” expectations (Marriage, kids); in fact I avoided it and took off in my Toyota Corona in 1975 to explore North American. Yukon Territory…another story in itself.

  • Ron Sprague

    We are called earthlings because our physical selves cosist of all the elements of earth and we have a deep connection with all things on planet earth, and their is a strong spiritual connection through nature that trensends: education, religion, politics, and money. We will connect with ALL when we project love to all we see.

  • Tina C

    I grew up in rural Missouri, with grandparents who were both too old and too overprotective to show me very much of nature beyond the woods that lined our field. Nevertheless, I feel a deep call to nature and take to state parks when I can. As a young adult, however, I feel a bit inadequate for having never camped and not feeling able to survive in the wilderness. It’s something I want to work on.

  • Kara W

    Birds have been a thing I can not live without, ever since I saw 8 Stellers jays in the backyard when I was 7.I love to teach my peers about birds. I spend all my money on bird books. If I have birds I have a friend.

  • nels

    “Nature” sucks. Trees are for logs and rivers are for dams. Anyone looking for bliss in the great outdoors is looking in the wrong direction. True spirituality is only found in the bible.

  • Grizzly Smith

    I got pointed to the “Lobo” video by the E.T. Seton Institute. As part of my “Stories from the Hiber-Nation” podcast, I recorded the entirety of “Wild Animals I Have Known” in serialized audiobook format. the Seton Institute in particular requested a recording of the first story, “Lobo: King of the Currumpaw,” but I wanted to finish the book. The last episode of the book will be available on Thursday evening, 3/12/2009.

    If folks are interested in hearing my rendition, they can find it on my website, http://grizzlysgrowls.com.

    Thanks for your interest.

    Griz

  • Cowboy Tony

    Ever sense I was little I have always loved the outdoors. I have been camping so many times I have lost count. The best is when I take my horse up to the high country for days at a time. Rain are snow,I did not care as long as I was warm & dry, but that was not always the case. That’s how I want to live the rest of my life. Someone once ask me, why do I love the outdoors so much?. ( the trees,mountains,rivers,lakes the stress of everyday life/work,the wife-[ex). Well sure that was part of it. Until one day it just came to me. “BECAUSE IT IS THE LAST PLACE WERE MAN/WOMAN ARE IN CHARGED”.

  • Cowboy Tony

    Ever sense I was little I have always loved the outdoors. I have been camping so many times I have lost count. The best is when I take my horse up to the high country for days at a time. Rain are snow,I did not care as long as I was warm & dry, but that was not always the case. That’s how I want to live the rest of my life. Someone once ask me, why do I love the outdoors so much?. ( the trees,mountains,rivers,lakes the stress of everyday life/work,the wife-[ex). Well sure that was part of it. Until one day it just came to me. “BECAUSE IT IS THE LAST PLACE WERE MAN/WOMAN ARE IN CHARGE”.

  • USCitizen 07

    I have had a connection with nature since I was 10. It gave me a spiritual connection and understanding of animals, life and religion that I as of yet to find a twin.

    I understand animals, and they seem to understand me to quite a degree.

    I’ve been able to pick up or approach frightened, injured and wild animals often without them fearing me.

    I’ve never been bitten with the exception of a pet that was being rebellious. They are often like people with multiple personalities.

    As far as faith, nature taught me.

    I haven’t stepped into a church, since 10.

    From the age of 15 I have been responsible for my own education, with the exception of current job requirements.

    I sometimes wonder if the lack of exposure to social stimulation wasn’t to my benefit.

    The answers people look for, are all around you, in nature, and within yourself.

    No where else.

    Outside sources can only be a guide, not a law.

  • Marc McFarland

    I have had a deep kinship with animals and nature since I was very young. I think the first time I went camping I was like three and it was with my father and brother when my brother was in the Boy Scouts. I enjoyed it so much that as soon as I was old enough, I too joined the cub scouts and then later the boy scouts. I believe that the BSA had a very strong and important impact on me and on my life. It taught me a great deal of my most cherished knowledge and values and although it is at heart a christian organization, science was always presented in an unbiased form that I have found(unfortunately) quite rare in such unabashedly religious organizations. The love of nature and of learning that my troops(224) scoutmasters instilled in me had a great deal to do with the path I choose to take in life and my choice to study animals and nature. I think I owe a great deal of the positive steps that I have taken in life to the BSA and my troops frequent camping trips throughout Arizona and community based activities in Phoenix. Most importantly, I think the BSA was instrumental in instilling in me a love of all creatures both big and small and of the natural world in all its forms.

  • HUNTER

    my connection with nature? I (and most people I know) think that the perfect place for me is the forests of alabama. i am growing up here. my home is the backwoods, no matter where i am. i was born in the city, and i HATE it here in the city!!!

  • Brenda Bellenie

    I simply resonate with nature. Ever changing, defies interference, simple in its complexity, impartial, spiraling outwards from its tiniest particle before turning back into itself, silent, self regulating…

  • Bob Hines

    I,m a wildlife artist and a nature lover, i believe that everything on this earth has a connection , when we lose a species to extinction everyone on this planet suffers.

  • jbass

    when i was younger i loved hunting.i have 2 different native tribes in my ancestry.now,i love to just go see nature.we have reduced the natural habitat so much.i love to eat wild meat,however,i no longer need it to survive.i go on canoe trips on florida’s west coast.i take a rod and reel but i rarely fish.i would rather see the wildlife than eat it.nature is just awesome.we are the only animal on the planet that is overpopulating the planet.everything else has a biological control.since we have reduced wildlife habitat,we need hunting to control population.however,we destroy millions of acres of habitat every day.in destroying the wildlife,we destroy ourselves.if they don’t survive,neither will we.

  • Stoddard Hardwick

    The BSA was an influance on me as well for instilling a respect for nature. I live in Fort Meyers,Fl. and we have all manner of Natures creatures. The Pygmy Rattlers were carefully moved to a different location. But everey thing else, Skunks, Possums, Armadillos, Gators, and Coyotes, were left alone as I enjoyed thier rambling about, hunting.
    One day a feral dog, who are common in this area, had made a “Fox hole” den in my back yard. He had been attracted by my neighbors female Dalmatian, who had come into heat. The feral dog stayed for a week until one day I gave him some food. That night he came to my front door and I let him in. I let him out every day for a week ,in case he belonged to somebody, and he always came back. I took him to the Vet and thought I had rescued a stray. Three months later I found out he was a Carolina Dog. I had befriended one of Natures creatures.

  • Pamela C.

    Seton’s story is very moving. He was an intelligent and enlightened individual who understood the tragedy he was a part of and then was able to move past it and into compassion, action, and redemption. Every day I step into nature, which is nothing less than the manifestation of spirit. If you do not experience and cannot see the Goddess and God in Nature, you will not find them when you die.

  • Ron Zamora

    I could not live without the beauty of nature, Mother Earth, Gaia ! I was a Boy Scout as a child and that’s where I started my love affair with the great outdoors. As a man into his 60th year, I’ve always found solace, contentment, peacefulness at the beach, in the woods, in the mountains of N Carolina, Calgary, Vermont, New Mexico, Georgia …….in & around the beautiful springs & rivers of my beloved Florida, especially the beautiful but endangered St Johns. My wife & I kayak & canoe the beautiful waters as often as we can.We must make preserving our earth a top priority !

  • Mary Fran Jeppesen

    I love nature and am never happier than when I am backpacking in the wilderness. Last year my sister and I hiked The John Muir trail. We hiked the 218 miles in 18 days. It was quiet an adventure. But we had more of an adventure this year. We were backpacking from Looncreek to the Salmon River in the River Of No Return Wilderness. The second night we camped at Falconberry Ranch in the middle of an open meadow. Before having dinner we explored a little and saw many animal track around the creek, bear, elk, deer, and WOLF. We didn’t think much of it but because of the bear tracks we hung our packs. About 1:30 am we woke to the sound of wolves howling. Cool we thought, we get to hear wolves howl. But they got closer and closer and it sounded like there was a lot of them. We really needed to use the bathroom bad. We waited until we hadn’t heard any wolves for about 15 min. and we hurried out to releive ourselves. As soon as we got back into our tent the wolves began again and only they were very close. We could hear them right out side our tent yellping and whining. ( no they were not cyotes) It was very scary!!! We turned on our head lights and started talking really loud and they moved off a little but they howled until 7 am. We found out later that the highest concentration of Grey Wolves in the U.S is right there and I think we met them all. Now that it’s over I am gald I had the experence! I watched Lobo, the wolf that changed America with much interest. I found it fasinating! The older I get the more love and appreciation I have for nature. Every thing has such beauty and there is so much to see. I can hardley stay in my house. I live in a very beautiful place on the baks of the Snake River so I have a lot to see. If you have never read a Mary Oliver Poem I suggest you do it. She is a beautiful poet and writes only about her love of the earth.

  • Mike Ormsby

    A canoe is a very good way to get close to nature. While it is possible to make a canoe go pretty fast, it is the thrill of slowing down that appeals to most canoeists. Even when canoes do go fast, when they rocket rapidly through whitewater, they are still canoes. Still close to nature and its environs. It is not the canoe that provides the power, it is the water. The canoe rides the water and its occupants humbly steer.

    In a canoe you can’t help but feel the body of the country, notice the shape of islands or hills, hear the cries of birds and the sound of the wind, yet still respond fervently to the hundreds of small things that make up the world about you. Take a canoe onto a lake at night and enjoy what it can do, acting as a launching pad to distant worlds, opening up a vista of stars in the sky. The canoe seems to float up to these very stars and far away planets, as the night sky becomes one with the dark silent waters, twinking stars reflected in murky depths until water and sky all seem to blend together in one great expanse.

    Canoes can sneak up on loons or beavers or herons, even a mighty moose, silently getting you closer than you can imagine. The canoe becomes part of its surroundings, becoming part of the natural world, and so completely that even once discovered it doesn’t scare such creatures. The canoe is just part of their world, accepted as always being there. It might be that the canoe has been such a familiar sight for so long, for so many years in the north country. In no particular hurry, the loon or the beaver slip quietly under the water if at all bothered by any such intrusion. Usually the moose will just stand there, holding its ground, patiently out waiting the canoe and its paddlers, unless it tires and lumbers off to the safety of the nearby bush. The heron takes flight with its dignity intact, probably thinking: “It’s only a canoe, but I’ll just move away a bit anyway.”

  • l.williams

    i have always thought of nature as an extension of ourselves. I have loved anything to do with nature for all of my exsitence. If we don’t care about nature and all of life on this planet,then we are lost. Mother will have her way about everything that exsits with us.

  • Teanna (swordwhale)

    I grew up in PA farm country, on ponies and horses; that connection to the natural world kept a highly sensitive teen from going off the deep end. Over the years, I have trained various horses, including a mustang mare who ran wild for 8 years… or maybe, they’ve trained me, created a connection with Nature no machine can.

    As an adult I backpacked on the barrier island of Assateague; the rigors of lugging a 50 pound backpack (with all your food, water and shelter) on a “desert island”, the clean, horizontal vistas at the edge of the sea, the harsh extremes of a land-seascape that’s always in motion, always shapeshifting opened up a new way of seeing the world.

    I scuba dived in lakes, quarries, rivers, the bays of Assateague and off the Mid-Atlantic Coast, going below the surface, past the obvious to the mysteries beneath. It takes much training and preparation to go beneath the surface of cold, murky water, but the spare beauties you find there are no less important than the glories of the tropical reefs.

    I had little use for floatin’ boats (they were to jump off of to look at the sunken one) till a friend took me kayaking. I was soon exploring every bit of water over 6″ deep, shoving my own ‘yak into trickles no wider than my hips, seeing blue herons fishing, eagle chasing osprey, dolphin and cownosed ray surfacing from the mysterious depths. A good kayak will float in 6″ of water, or take you into offshore swells. You are moving at the speed of nature, you see the hidden bird, the briefly surfacing fish, you feel the shape of the water, the pattern of the waves, the bottom as it comes up under you in the shallows. You are a water-borne centaur.

    The kayak (or canoe) will take you into the secret places no one else can reach in their Jet-skis and power boats. But sometimes you want a bigger boat…. in 2007 I walked onto the deck of my first tall ship (the Pride of Baltimore II)… I have spent a few hours here and there; roaring on a reach across the wind-chopped waters of the Chesapeake Bay, feeling the power of the wind singing in the rigging, wondering why we ever traded living wind for fossil fuels. True, it takes muscle power and teamwork to fly something the size of my house on the wind. But is that bad? Do we need a pushbutton world? Is it even good for us?

    I am a summer person, but one Siberian husky wandering into my backyard gave me an insight into Winter. Teetering on a mountain bike, or lurching on a rig or sled behind even two dogs is to feel the power of winter…to run with the wolves. They are not Golden Retrievers: normal dogs come when called, huskies take a messwage and get back to you. They are primitve, intelligent, with all their natural hunting and survival instincts intact. Like the rest of the natural world, you accept them on their terms, rather than molding them into the shape of your world.

    I see a lot of kids excercising their thumbs on their electronics. But as a volunteer at the local county park, I also see parents, schools, bringing kids into a direct experience with the natural world. TV, internet, books, all are great, but we need that direct experience. It is hardwired into us. We cannot live any other way.

    Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods” is a must read for every educator, volunteer, parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent. He points out the problem (”I’d rather play indoors, because that’ where all the electrical outlets are…”), shows why it’s a problem, and offers solutions.

    Go outside and play, and take a kid with you.

  • peg

    i believe we all came from mother nature,and all shall die from her as well. when and how is not our choice,altho the ways we live can help prolong what will someday happen!! not littering is one way to preserve our wild life, myself and my 2 children have cleaned a local water way in our town for yrs on earthday,its gottin to be a local hang out now,im really sickend by the way these people trash it up,it was the best fishin spot around nicknamed “the falls”.. i still fish there some but as time goes on these kids and adults have ruined it for the nature lovers… i think stiffer fines should be made and more game commission should be watching this spot,as i notified them in the past theyve done nothing, as now theres even a dump site … i dont know what else to do,ive even waited and watched myself.. a guy whom was fishing and left all his trash behind!! i picked it up ,followed him to the store ,he went in and i put the trash on his seat:} as ive done before to people who swurve to hit a snake in the road,i put it on their wipers:} some people live for today,then complain about tomorrow…mother nature will cure herself,as she has for millions of yrs… but for now ..in our time with her and the animals that depend on her..lets keep it clean..our children learn from this..teach them well:}

  • sancisco

    I just want to say thank you for this…

  • http://www.leotraderpro1.com forex

    I must say, as significantly as I enjoyed reading what you had to say, I couldnt help but lose interest after a while. Its as if you had a wonderful grasp to the subject matter, but you forgot to include your readers. Perhaps you should think about this from a lot more than one angle. Or maybe you shouldnt generalise so very much. Its better if you think about what others may have to say instead of just going for a gut reaction to the subject. Think about adjusting your own believed process and giving others who may read this the benefit of the doubt.

  • Art

    The miracle of a blooming flower
    Food chains
    Our place as predator and prey
    A caterpillar knowing to stop eating and attaching itself to a leaf to begin its metamorphosis
    Gravity

    Earth is so awesome. I feel connected to life here and love to fill my lungs with air and feel the warmth of the sun. I especially love the close relationships that humans, dogs and cats have forged, though I don’t have any! Very interesting to me– how that all came about.

    I appreciate and am humbled by the things I see every day as living things go about the business of living.
    This is my spirituality.

  • banking online a

    That looks gorgeous!!! So cozy and nice. Thanks for the idea)

  • Flor Villaire

    The magnetic beauty of this paradise operates as far as France ! Congratulations!

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