BOZEMAN — The first season of a new podcast from Montana State University Extension and the Western Landowners Alliance digs into why finding a shared vision for wolf recovery in the lower 48 is important both for agricultural production and wildlife conservation. It also examines what this shared vision would mean for the future of wolves and working lands in the Western U.S.
Jared Beaver, MSU Extension wildlife specialist, and Alex Few, coordinator of the Western Landowners Alliance’s Working Wild Challenge program, host the show, which is called “Working Wild University.” The podcast talks with the ranchers, biologists, outfitters and advocates working to sustain productive, resilient and connected rural landscapes, wildlife populations and human communities.
“We set out to make a show that really dives into the nuance of these complicated issues, without losing the landscape and the people at the heart,” said Few. “So, you’ll hear the working lands of the West, in all their struggle and glory, in each episode.”
The 13-episode season was recorded in eight states over more than eight months, with visits to dozens of ranches and conversations with historians, biologists, ranchers, agency personnel and other experts. Meanwhile, both Beaver, who has a doctorate in wildlife biology, and Few, who has a decade of experience with USDA-Wildlife Services and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, bring considerable expertise to hosting the show.
COVID-19’s impact on face-to-face interactions led Beaver to look for new ways to reach more Montanans with important wildlife management information, he said.
“Podcasting is an especially important tool for modern agricultural Extension,” said Beaver. “This is especially true in the West, where producers have a lot of windshield time.”
This first season of the podcast explores how producers and wildlife managers across the West are working with expanding wolf populations and how that relates to wolf behavior and biology, Few noted. He added that the team aimed to create a show that can provide value to seasoned ranchers and urban wildlife enthusiasts alike.
“Without a shared vision for the future of Western landscapes, and wolves in particular, I fear disagreements will only continue,” said Few. “That isn’t helpful for the kind of deep curiosity and creative thinking we will need to create a future where landscapes, wildlife and people all thrive.”
“Working Wild University” joins the Natural Resources University podcast network, a suite of shows from wildlife Extension specialists around the country. The first three episodes of Season 1 — “Wolves in the West” — are now available, with new episodes released weekly into 2023. Readers can find more information, listen and subscribe at workingwild.us.
“Working Wild University” was produced with financial support from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program.