SALEM, Ore. - The "big bad wolf" -- that sinister character of scary bedtime stories -- is getting a makeover. Not only do wolves and other large predators pose little threat to humans, they also play a central role in keeping ecosystems flourishing, Oregon State University researchers assert in a new film showing at the 2010 Salem Film Festival on Oct. 18.

"Whether it's cougars in Zion or wolves in Yellowstone National Park, the presence of that predator is crucial in maintaining that system through time," says Oregon State scientist Bob Beschta in "Lords of Nature: Life in a Land of Great Predators" by Green Fire filmmakers Karen and Ralf Meyer.

Beschta and Bill Ripple, professors in OSU's College of Forestry, have turned up mounting evidence that these big carnivores are lynchpins in the balance of nature. The filmmakers take viewers on a journey across America's northern tier -- from sheep ranches in Idaho to rural communities of Minnesota -- to see and hear surprising stories of successful predator reintroduction.

Beschta and Ripple will speak about their research at the festival along with the showing of the film at 5:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 17, at Salem Cinema, 1127 Broadway St. N.E., and again at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 18, at the Grand Theater, 191 High St. N.E. They will be joined by Rob Klavins from Oregon Wild.

For more on Ripple and Beschta's work on predators, go to Terra magazine:

"Lords of Nature" is one of 42 feature films screening at this year's Salem Film Festival, along with 46 short films. Advance tickets and festival passes are on sale at Travel Salem, Salem Cinema or online at: or by phone at 503-581-4325 or toll-free 800-874-7012 beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6. For more information, go to

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Bill Ripple, 541-737-3056