Photo courtesy of KUOW

Give nature half a chance and she’ll find a way

The future of our planet is not hopeless. In spite of human behavior, wildlife is finding ways to survive and, in many cases, to flourish. It's these stories of resilience in the animal kingdom that are the central theme of the new podcast THE WILD. THE WILD is produced by KUOW Public Radio in Seattle and hosted by ecologist and wildlife-filmmaker Chris Morgan.  

Mountain lions in Washington state are adapting as humans expand deeper into the wilderness. Beaver populations once decimated in the United States are now thriving in urban ponds. The rare Marsican brown bear is gaining a foothold in a national park in the mountains just two hours outside of Rome. In the third episode of our podcast we highlight wolves in Germany. A little over a hundred years ago wolves vanished from the country when the last remaining wolf was shot to death. Then, in 2000 something amazing happened. Wolves started coming back. They crossed over from Poland into the eastern forests of Germany and found refuge among the ruins of abandoned military bases from World War II. This rewilding has created a surge in the wolf population that now numbers over 1,000.  

It’s these stories of hope, resilience and wonder that we are Chris Morgan’s mission for THE WILD. He says:

Season 1 of The Wild premiered in April and runs through June 18, 2019. Here is the list of episodes: 

The Wild – Season 1 

Episode 1: Cougars Around Us (April 2, 2019):
There are 2000 cougars in Washington state. Most of us will never cross paths with this apex predator, but our habitats are deeply intertwined. Chris hops into his pickup truck and travels from the suburbs, through ranches and orchards and into a forest in Eastern Washington looking to find a mountain lion. 

Episode 2: How to Catch a Grizzly (April 9, 2019):
Chris recounts the first time he came face to face with a grizzly. On a research trip he helps a biologist friend capture and release a bear in order to radio collar the bear and collect important DNA samples. 

Return of ze big bad wolf (April 16, 2019):  
In 2008, wolves returned to Washington state. Unlike the contentious decision to reintroduce these carnivores to other western states, the wolf’s return occurred naturally when a male from Canada ventured south and connected with a female from neighboring Idaho. A similar story is playing out in Europe, where several hundred wolves have returned to Germany 100 years after they were wiped out. Chris travels from Washington to the German-Polish border in search of wolves. 

Episode 4: Leave it to beavers. Seriously. (April 23, 2019): Beavers are a keystone species that can help fight climate change. Who knew?  Chris rolls up his waders and heads out to explore the secret lives of beavers and the impacts that they have on man and the environment. 

Episode 5: A Tiger Named Bloody Mary (April 30, 2019):
Sooyong Park has devoted his life to studying tigers in Russia. For months at time he lived in a 4 by 6 foot hole in the ground in the Russian far east, enduring isolation and sub-zero temperatures, all in an effort to film Siberian tigers. He eventually became the first person to capture tigers in the wild on film. Chris met up with Park in the forests of Russia to learn about tigers from the man who has the most intimate relationship to them than anyone in the world. 

Episode 6: Animal Psychology and How to Stay Safe in the Wild (May 7, 2019):
In 2010 a man was killed by a mountain goat in Olympic National Park. In 2018 two people were killed by mountain lions in two separate attacks in Washington and Oregon. These kinds of attacks are rare, but there are things you can do to protect yourself. Chris gives tips on how to remain safe in the wild whether you're on an afternoon stroll in the forest or trekking in the backcountry. 

Episode 7: 50 Bears, 2 Hours from Rome (May 14, 2019):  Chris used to give speeches that conservation causes were dead in Europe. That is why he moved to the United States. But now he’s realizing his assumptions were entirely wrong. Just two hours outside of Rome, a population of 50 brown bears lives in the mountain's thanks in part to conservation efforts. 

Episode 8: Chris Sees a Forest Therapist (May 21, 2019):  
Many cultures celebrate the healing power of nature. In Japan they have developed a forest therapy called Shinrin Yoku. A growing body of scientific literature is finding that time in the woods can lead relieve depression, lower blood pressure and may even help fight cancer.  Chris does a little "forest bathing" and explores the connection between nature and our health. 

Episode 9: The ‘Ghost Bears’ of Washington State (May 28, 2019):  
Former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke surprised everyone when he announced back in April 2018 that he supported the reintroduction of Grizzly Bears into the North Cascades. What would that actually look like on the ground? Chris has worked in the North Cascades for 20 years on this issue. Some love him for it. Others have pressed revolvers into his stomach. Chris introduces us to people on both sides of the divide, and shares what he’s learned about the ultimate icon of the wild. 

Episode 10: Lions of the Sea (June 4, 2019):  
In the 1800’s over 10 million salmon would return to the Columbia River that borders Washington and Oregon. Today that number is closer to 2 million today. Many factors account for that change including lower water quality, a warmer climate and sea lions. Hundreds of sea lions gather at the base of the Bonneville Dam eating salmon that are trying to make it up river to spawn. This has created tension between humans and sea lions. Chris examines the tensions between man and animal telling the story from the point of view of the sea lion.

Episode 11: Waiting for Penguins (June 11, 2019):  
What would it be like to spend four months on the coldest, windiest continent on earth filming penguins? Chris talks to filmmakers Jeff Wilson and Mark Smith who documented Adelie penguins in Antarctica for Frozen Planet and DisneyNature. They share their observations of the Adelie colony which numbered half a million penguins and the challenges of working under such harsh conditions.

Episode 12: Sounds of the Wild (June 18, 2019):  
From buzzing smartphones to honking car horns, it's difficult to escape the cacophony of daily life. Chris heads out to the Olympic Peninsula with an “acoustic ecologist” in search of the sounds of nature and the quietest place in North America.