Art for Compassion: Wolves and Coyotes

by David E. Shellenberger on May 6, 2015

Nature photographer and filmmaker Jim Brandenburg’s new project, “Nature 365,” presents daily, one-minute videos from footage that Mr. Brandenburg filmed over the years in Minnesota. On the project’s website, Mr. Brandenburg observes,

There were themes that kept presenting themselves to me – like the resident wolf pack that over the years learned to trust my presence. The wolf is a recurring subject, perhaps more than any other. In their trust, secrets were revealed to my camera that were not known, even to science.

In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Mr. Brandenburg suggested his hope for the project:

I’ve always really believed — when it comes to the environment which I feel very strongly about — it’s pretty hard to preach it and hit people over the head,’ he said. ‘They need to have their own self-transformation. I’m thinking little projects like this can make a difference… Maybe someone that never gets into nature will see something and feel something.’

Art is one of the best ways to reach hearts, encouraging compassion. See my “Songs of Wolves, Poems of Man” and “Wolf OR-7 Continues to Inspire Art — You Can Help.”

(By way of update, in the spring of 2014, OR-7 found a mate in Oregon and fathered pups — good news for all of us who have followed the iconic wolf.)


Last summer I began learning more about coyotes through a program at the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC), “Coyotes: Behavior, Ecology and Coexistence.” Like wolves, coyotes are beautiful animals that should be protected for their intrinsic and ecological value, but instead are feared and persecuted. Our Facebook group, OR-7 Wandering Wolf of America, now includes coverage of coyotes. (We also cover cougars, the subject of another WCC program last summer, “Search for the Eastern Cougar.”)

One of the organizations that focus on the welfare of coyotes (also known as “song dogs”) is Coyote Watch Canada (CWC), based in St. David’s, Ontario. CWC advocates “compassionate coexistence,” a wonderful ideal. I support both WCC and CWC.

Jane Lee McCracken

Jane Lee McCracken is a Scottish artist who shares her gift for the benefit of wildlife. I am pleased to have prints of her works that help the WCC, “Atka” and “American Dream,” as well as her limited edition art book, War + Peace.

CWC is holding a fundraiser gala, “A Song Dog Celebration,” on May 23rd, 2015, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. Ms. McCracken’s new drawing, “Coyote,” will benefit CWC. The work “reflects on the harmony that once existed between coyotes and man, the destruction of that relationship, and the hope for a return to understanding and coexistence.”

The original of the work will be auctioned at the gala, and prints are available online. I look forward to receiving my print. See the “Shop” page of Ms. McCracken’s website to order any of her work.


To love wildlife means to suffer and to hope. The cruelty towards creatures saddens us, while the growing appreciation for wildlife gives us hope.

In his interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Mr. Brandenburg said that his “heart was broken” by the hunting of wolves in Minnesota; his “friends are being shot.” Instead, he asked, “Let’s cherish these animals.” Art can help us cherish all wildlife.

Ms. McCracken concludes her description of “Coyote” with the message, “This piece is for North America’s Song Dogs.”

This post is for artists with good hearts, who give us hope and inspiration.

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