Filmmaker tells wolves’ story

Screening Friday at the Back Space

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald
Elke Duerr, a filmmaker and conservationist who lives in Albuquerque, is in town this week educating school children about Mexican gray wolves. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald Elke Duerr, a filmmaker and conservationist who lives in Albuquerque, is in town this week educating school children about Mexican gray wolves.

The acronym of her Web of Life Foundation, which promotes the connection of humans to wildlife and wild places, denotes the animal on which Elke Duerr is concentrating her current efforts – the wolf.

Duerr, a speech and language therapist in Albuquerque, talked about the Mexican gray wolf recovery program to 200 students at Durango High School on Wednesday. She will make presentations to elementary school students today and Friday.

She travels about 15,000 miles a year around the Southwest with her educational program.

Duerr will show her 73-minute documentary titled “Stories of Wolves: The Return of the Lobo” at the Back Space Theatre on Friday evening at 6:30 p.m.

Filming was in New Mexico, Arizona and a captive-wolf-breeding program in Salem, N.Y.

“We want to help humans realize the beauty and purpose of all life forms,” Duerr said during a stop at The Durango Herald. “It’s our mission to be a voice for the voiceless – our Earth, animals and plants.”

Duerr was born in Germany and lived there until she was 22 year old. She came to the United States with a degree in communicative disorders and now is an American citizen.

“I’ve always been fascinated by wolves even though there were none in Germany while I was growing up,” Duerr said. “The production of the film, 15 months of shooting and four months of editing, had its premier a year ago.

The film comprises largely interviews with people who live in wolf country and have contact with the gray wolf such as ranchers and Native Americans.

“I’ve shown the film in Arizona, New Mexico, Germany and Slovenia,” she said. “I wanted to show it in Europe to state that the fairy tale about Red Riding Hood being eaten by a wolf, which started there, ended there.”

Wolves don’t prey on people, Duerr said.

The Mexican gray wolf is the smallest subspecies of the gray wolf and the most endangered land mammal in North America, Duerr said. The last count estimated their number at 58 in New Mexico, Arizona and Northern Mexico.

“It’s up to people whether the wolf survives,” Duerr said.

Duerr also is involved with programs to protect the river otter, mustangs and wild bison.

On Tuesday, the foundation will pick up one of 100 Prius vehicles that Toyota has donated to nonprofits, Duerr said.

daler@durangoherald.com

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