Wild Friends

Enjoying a day of outdoor photography with my daughter Claire

Enjoying a day of outdoor photography with my daughter Claire

One of the greatest joys of this journey is meeting and collaborating with incredible people, including my daughter Claire, biologists, researchers, bird experts, teachers, naturalists, climbers, conservationists, foresters, hunters, trappers, oil and gas specialists, ranchers and others. Mountain lions and other wildlife will thrive if we are all working together to improve wildlife habitat and management. Nothing happens in isolation. I count myself very fortunate to count the folks below, and many more, as dear friends and colleagues. Thanks for enriching my life and making an enormous difference for wildlife!

David Neils


Jim Williams on Bearhat Mountain, Glacier National Park, Montana

Jim Williams on Bearhat Mountain, Glacier National Park, Montana

David Neils cares about wildlife and people.  His extensive experience tracking wild pumas in remote wild places has proven useful as a tool to engage local communities.  David is inspiring young and old alike to care about pumas and other wildlife conservation efforts.   He has taken noninvasive camera trap sampling to the next level by using spatial movement patterning based on his hard won knowledge of preferred puma habitats.  David has developed a keen eye for the path of the wild puma.

Jim Williams M.S., Author of Patagonia Inc.’s Path of the Puma and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Supervisor and Certified Wildlife Biologist


Penny Maldonado, at home, in the wilderness

Penny Maldonado, at home, in the wilderness

One of the hardest aspects of my job is helping people to connect to an animal that they will probably never see! The elusiveness of the mountain lion is one of its greatest survival skills. David Neils’ videography has provided a remarkable tool in bridging that gap by opening a window into the mysterious world of the most magnificent cat. No invasive procedures are ever utilized to capture the photos and videos in David’s library-not even the presence of a human. The lions are, indeed, as they are, with perhaps a dash of cat-like curiosity when the camera is spotted!

I wonder if David has ever calculated the number of footsteps that have gone into acquiring his more than eight hundred video clips? I imagine that those steps are not as important to David as the heartbeats that drive his intention to bring more information, more understanding, more awareness, and more tolerance among people for the wildlife that surrounds them.

David’s business,Wild Nature Media, developed, not only out of the need to make a living, but the desire to make a difference.

Penelope Maldonado, Executive Director, The Cougar Fund


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David Neils possesses an infectious love of nature. Share a conversation with him and you will hear echoes of Muir, Roosevelt, Abbey, and Leopold. Share a hike with him and you are sure to learn something new. From Montana-raised youth to present day he has never stopped learning about nature. A lifetime of boots on the ground combined with a sincere desire to understand and protect the natural world elevates David’s work above others. His knowledge of mountain lions comes from a keen interest to know them better, protect them more. The quality and originality of his remote camera videos surpass most professional photographers. His imagery inspires young and old to appreciate the wildness in their back yard. It is gratifying to see David reaching wider audiences with his message of keeping the WILD in wildlife.

Don Hunter, Science Director, Rocky Mountain Cat Conservancy



George Wuerthner and his daughter Summer in Alaska

George Wuerthner and his daughter Summer in Alaska

David Neils is the real thing. From exploring the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness as a teen near his boyhood home in Libby Montana to his recent adventures documenting wild predators in the Colorado Front Range, Neils is the consummate naturalist. He knows wildlife from personal experience, not just from reading about wildlife accounts. His videos of wild predators in natural environment, acting without the influence of human presence provides keen insights to predator ecology that few can rival. Beyond his knowledge of wildlife, Neils is an excellent spokesman for wildlife conservation. He goes beyond just recording wildlife but shares his knowledge with many others. I have learned a great deal from David and I think anyone who spends any time with him either in the field or attending one of his programs will agree with me that he is full of insights and interesting stories. 

George Wuerthner, Wilderness Expert and Advocate