Most people, when standing in a truly wild place, do so reverently. We all crave wild, whether it's conscious or subconscious. Millions of people visit iconic national parks like Yellowstone National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park and Glacier National Park. As they drive past the entrance station and start to see majestic landscapes, even with the crowds, it activates a part of their DNA that just can't be stimulated any other way. Looking from space it is easy to see why. Take a look at Yellowstone National Park from a bird's eye view using Google Earth or simply Google Maps. Note the number of roads inside the park versus outside the park. Even though we're talking Montana and Wyoming, it looks like Manhattan, NY outside the park with roads everywhere. Inside the park there is room to breathe. It's wild, especially after you leave the pavement and wander into truly wild habitat. We all crave these wild places, whether we can articulate it or not. They are critical for our health as a species and the health of the planet.
Being face bumped by a mountain lion, over 14 years ago in the Never Summer Wilderness of Colorado, changed my life. I've spent thousands of hours in their domain, learning all I can through the use of remote cameras. I've photographed and videotaped scores of lions but I've only seen five with my own eyes since childhood. Wild places and the truly wild animals that inhabit these places have swept me off my feet, changed me.
After studying mountain lions for many years I know that the when I find a place where mountain lions live for most, if not all, of the year, these places are different. They are diverse from a plant and wildlife standpoint. Plant communities stretch from the forest floor up into the canopy. These places have diversity of wildlife. I see more tracks of different animals. I hear more birds. These places are simply more alive. They also have clean water and low pressure from humans. The mountain lion has become a canary in the coal mine. It tells us something about the place, about it’s wildness.
Wild Nature Media exists to encourage support and engagement of our wild places outside and within.
All photography and videography provided by David Neils