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President Trump rattles the Middle East, saying the U.S. will recognize Israel’s authority over the Golan Heights. Also on our Friday rundown: A judge blocks laws limiting the power of the new Wisconsin governor. Plus, momentum builds across party lines to abolish the death penalty.

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WYO Predators in Movie Spotlight

June 2, 2009

Cheyenne, WY – They're the top of the food chain, and the get top credit in a new documentary about the role of predators in Wyoming and surrounding states. Scientists and filmmakers followed cougars and wolves in their natural habitat, and compared those areas to zones where the predators are not common, for the movie "Lords of Nature: Life in a Land of Great Predators." They discovered surprising connections between the presence of predators and the health of populations of birds, antelope, wildflowers and frogs.

Filmmaker Karen Meyer says one example highlighted is the way stream banks become overgrazed by elk and deer when wolves and cougars aren't around to keep them moving along.

"Compare that to an area where top predators are present, and you see willow growing back, new stands of aspen and cottonwood; that's the habitat for the wildlife."

Meyer says the study of predators has been historically focused on what they kill and eat, but that's changing with new evidence of the ways the animals help ecosystems become resilient.

"What's happening to the ecosystem beyond that – they're finding that it ripples out in every part of the landscape, from the plants and wildlife."

Meyer says predators play a role in healthy wildlife and ecosystems that wasn't fully understood by those who wanted to exterminate the animals because they threatened livestock. Some in Wyoming still have no tolerance for wolves because of that concern. The film premieres in Jackson Hole Friday.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY