No Longer the Big Bad Wolf: The Expedition to Secure Wolf Self-Portraits and Its Impact On the Bureau of Biological Survey

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Allen, Katharine Thompson
Bureau of Biological Survey; camera traps; wolves; Arts and Humanities; History
thesis / dissertation description
This thesis provides a detailed study of the technology of and motivations behind the Tensas expedition, which had the singular goal of taking photographs of wolves in the wild. In addition to beginning a conversation about the importance of camera traps in the history of visual media, it also allows for additional insight into the machinations of the Bureau of Biological Survey (the Survey) during the 1930s. Founded in 1885, the Survey had several duties, including the advancement of knowledge in the natural sciences, yet its most contentious task was the eradication of several predatory species, including wolves. The Tensas expedition, a collaboration between Survey employees, naturalists, and a wildlife photographer, produced photographs and written reports that were markedly different than literature previously published by the Survey, which demonized wolves and other predatory species. By examining this departure from the Survey's standard treatment of wolves and the myriad consequences of the expedition, I hope to provide a richer understanding of the relationship between wolves and men during this era.