Wednesday, March 14, 2007

?Wilde? life gives clues to behavior

Event features grizzlies in their environment

Express Staff Writer

Photos by Buck Wilde

Can you read wild minds? The aptly named Buck and Diana Wilde of Hailey have garnered the art of not only reading wild minds but of making them at ease. They are wildlife photographers and naturalists who learned their skills outside among wild animals.

They will be presenting an educational program, "Grizzly Bears and The Unspoken Language of Emotions," on Sunday, March 18, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Community Campus in Hailey. The event is being co-sponsored by New Moons Rising, Wilde Image, Blaine County School District and the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley Education Committee.

The Wildes offer four educational packages, "Grizzly Survival," "Dinosaur Feathers," "Wetland Wonders" and "Risk Reward Dilemma." They present them to various organizations around the country.

From his base on Katmai National Park Preserve in Alaska, 300 miles from civilization, Buck Wilde has spent 17 years learning to understand and photograph grizzlies. Internationally known for his skills, he has been an onsite consultant for many documentaries including "Face-to-Face," "Giants," "Grizzlies of Volcano Island" and "The Life of Mammals" with David Attenborough for the BBC. Buck was the subject of another 2002 BBC documentary, "The Bear Whisperer."

Diana Wilde explores "humananimal" behavior and the nuances of nonverbal communications. She earned a Masters degree in behavioral disorders and taught school for 20 years, often to special needs children. As well, before she and Buck Wilde were in partnership, she was photographing wildlife in Alaska herself.

The Wildes have developed a curriculum through Diana's educational non-profit organization, New Moons Rising, which they are taking to schools, businesses and universities. Each program offers something slightly different but all with idea to get people out in nature again. They are proponents of a movement called "No Child Left Inside" founded by Richard Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder."

"We see ourselves as part of the answer, a spark plug to get kids outside," Buck said. "We've gotten wonderful reviews, and the imagery is awesome. The messages (we impart) are kind of out of the box. It's not what people are expecting."

The Wildes are kind of scary, though fun. They read faces as though they're studying some subspecies in nature. They aren't easy to fool. But what they profess is that their techniques, aside from helping people understand animals in the wild, can also help them in business and personal relationships.

"There are four instincts in face-to-face encounters," Buck Wilde said. "Fear, curiosity, intuition and confidence. You can be more effective in face-to-face interactions with other people and understand how instincts manifest, how to control them and ally them."

Last year, they spent two months on the road and hope to expand to four months this coming year. There are opportunities for philanthropists and corporations to become involved with the New Moons Rising programs. They want to take the programs to both urban and remote rural areas to help kids reconnect with nature. Each of the programs focuses on communications.

"We consider the silent language of emotions," Diana Wilde said. "The idea is to read facial expressions, body posture and movement."

The Wildes met nearly 15 years ago on a train from Winnipeg to Alaska. They spent more than two-days in deep discussion about bears and where to find and photograph them. Then they lost touch. For five years, unbeknownst to either of them, they were just 50 air miles apart. For the last four years they've been working the environmental, "humananimal" line together.

"I'm the Ph.D. He's the bear whisperer," Diana said. "Somewhere in there we made a partnership,"

The event is free, though donations will be accept to benefit New Moons Rising educational programs. For more information visit

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