“Your daily observations are so important to keeping people interested and feeling a part of the wolves lives. My selfish desire to have you there daily is not as important as you taking care of you. I just am saddened to not have you there to ‘witness honestly’ about them. You have done more for the wolf and their importance than any other ever has. I don’t think you realize just how important you have become.”
Sent to me in a private message some time ago.
Two years ago I walked out to Bob’s Knob at Slough Creek, in hopes of seeing some wolves. As I neared the knob there was a massive group of people on the left and two people standing off to the right, about 50 yards away from the others.
Back then, Wolf World was hostile towards me. There were some rumors about me committing offenses against the wolves, that were either completely fabricated or born out of inexperience in Yellowstone and not knowing what was going on. After all, I had only been at the park for about 4 months and no one was friendly right from the beginning so I had to figure things out for myself. And, so, it should not surprise you or anyone that I chose to stand off to the right of the big crowd, not far from a couple of wolf project people who were kind enough to show me where the wolves were.
I can’t recall if I had a scope back then or not. I did not have binoculars until after being at the park for about 1.5 years. At some point that winter or early spring, a friend gave me a cheap scope to use. My guess is that I carried my camera with an 80-400mm lens and a tripod, and was trying my best to see the wolves way off in the distance.
There had been howling off to the north of us and I was told that 755 was up on some rocks. I believe that he was trying to convince 889 to run off with him.
As I stood there, minding my own business, not talking to anyone except Rick when he walked over to make sure I had seen the wolves, I noticed some movement behind me and turned to look.
Imagine my delighted surprise at discovering that 755 was walking right behind us! I was the first to notice the boy and swung my camera around to start taking photos. People must have been paying attention to what I was doing because soon everyone had turned to watch 755 walk on by.
I had not seen 755 in a long while and was just ecstatic to see him but was also sad to see how thin he had become. I noticed that he was limping slightly on one leg.
After watching the wolves for awhile, I went on about my day, not thinking much about anything. I had taken a cell phone shot of the back of my camera, with an image of 755 and posted it to Facebook because so many would be excited to know that he had been seen. It seems to me that I was kind of floating on cloud 9 for the remainder of the day.
All sounds pretty innocent, right? Well, imagine my surprise when some time later a person that I had become friends with sent me the following note, which she said had been sent to her by a woman who was out watching wolves that day. Now, remember, I did not speak to anyone except for wolf project personnel and that was only to find out where the wolves were. I had never met the person who authored this note, never said a word to her and did not have a clue who she was. The reason I share this now is because this note is indicative of the lengths that people were willing to go to discredit me and push me out of Yellowstone. And, because, two years later, the person who wrote this note and a couple of others are still working very hard to rid the park of my presence.
This note is word for word exactly what I received on April 1, 2013.
“Subj: we may have a problem Jann, I need to pass this along to you. Our problem has to do with Deby Dixon’s credibilty. I have had 3 of my wolf watcher friends now to tell me that this is an issue. Marlene in a phone conversation last month when I asked her who would be good people to help you and I out. Deby was #1 on the no list. Yesterday I asked two of my good friends who were at Slough to point her out to me. Deby was standing alone away from the Wolf Project and the watchers who help. From their comments I know why. 1. She is not credible–I could use the strong words that were said but! 2. Pictures some that she is selling as “hers” on her site are not hers but she is passing them off as hers 3. She is using Laurie’s reports just changing the wording 4. She is not in Rick M’s and the Wolf Projects ‘good graces” One incident that was related to me was that she does have a radio to find out were everyone is watching the wolves so she knows where to go. She was down on the road quite recently where there was wolf activity. Rick radioed her to come to where everyone else was. She didn’t and he had to stop watching and go get her. I have to give her credit yesterday she did think to pull out her iphone to take a picture of 755. The rest of us where so awestruck that he came that close we just stood there and watched. We all have watch able only moments tho’ kinda in respect. I did notice she commented he was injured. He is not injured and when I post our pictures I’ll mention he looked good. walking and running just fine. Warren and I are going to leave it up to you as to what to do. Our feel is we should not use her post anymore and have her just quietly go away. We could have a problem later if we are linked with her. I’m so sorry about this!!”
I don’t know where this person thought that I was getting the photos from my site, or how they could possibly think that they were stolen images but that claim, right there, shows the hand of a trouble maker. And, to think that I was copying Yellowstone Reports? When my stories were posted on Facebook several hours before YR was published – it is hard to say how I accomplished that. Ironically, this person administrates a wolf page that has many a re-written story gotten from Yellowstone Reports, which is copyrighted. Not in good graces? No, I guess maybe not, since there were tons of rumors flying around about me having a gun and being violent, not to mention purposefully disturbing the wolves. I did not have a wolf radio at the time of the incident when 776 and Butterface were not far off of the road, as the radio had been returned to its owner. For me it was a golden moment of driving along and looking left, only to see wolves standing close by. Naturally, I stopped to photograph the wolves, which were howling. I knew nothing about anything, only that there were several wolves right there. When I noticed that there was a line of people across the road, about a mile away, I pulled into the next pullout. Yeah, no iPhone pics of 755 but apparently it is a sin to be quick with the camera to take photos of a wolf walking by.
Of the entire note this sentence says exactly what happened to me back then and still continues to happen today: “Our feel is we should not use her post anymore and have her just quietly go away.”
People have been waiting for me to quietly go away for two years but I have not done so. When friends ask why I stayed, they are told that it is because I had not done anything wrong.
Another person, who shared my photos a lot, got a similar note from yet another wolf advocate, with claims against me that did not have an ounce of truth.
Here are a few of those accusations as well, which were followed with a warning that they should not use my work.
– Panhandling for gas” activities, as well as demanding that a law enforcement ranger shoot two different bisons that had fallen into “hot springs” two days in a row. Then there was a story about me demanding an interview from Doug Smith while he was carrying 759 across the river.-
The first two accusations are just plain ridiculous, as is the third. But, I do recall that after Doug Smith returned to the road with 759’s body, he addressed me and said that he had a note that I wanted to interview him. Doug told me to go through the Public Affairs office to get clearance. He brought it up, not me. Interestingly enough, when Doug went out to retrieve the body, he took a journalist with him, which was not me.
And, so, for two years I have fought the gossip circles that have sought to discredit me with fabricated stories. I am a sensitive person who wishes that everyone liked me. And, I am deeply affected when someone calls me a liar. Comes from a nasty event when I was a child and was severely beaten when my dad claimed I was lying. When, in fact, I did not have a clue of what he was talking about. Since then I am hyper-sensitive about the truth and work hard to share the facts accurately. And, I live alone in a very isolated way because I am so focused on my passion of photography and writing that there is no time left for relationships.
An interesting thing to note here is that no one, not one person, has ever come to me and said that they didn’t like something I did. Nor have they come to ask if any of these rumors were true. My guess is that folks wanted to cause problems and believe the lies, otherwise they would have acted like adults and confirmed the stories before repeating them. At any rate, because of this I walked around for a long time not knowing what was being said about me. Like, I had no clue that there were concerns about me having a gun and that I supposedly threatened people with it – instead, people were going around worried that I was going to kill them!
So many of these rumors made my head spin and I did not know what to think. At times I defended myself and at other times I remained silent, hoping that it would all just go away. But, it never did go away and I had no idea why. My naive self figured that after a year or two people would see my actions and the rumors would fade. And, that has happened to a certain extent.
But, what I did not know was that there was a small group of people intent on destroying me and so were creating new rumors and undermining my relationships with other people.
More than two years this has been going on. I knew that there were problems with these folks and so kept my distance and did my own thing. The thing is that I am not doing anything wrong and so have nothing to hide, and so I went about my business. But, I did not count on people making up stories for false police reports, or to tell to people who had become my friends. I counted on the truth but it could not be found, where I was concerned.
Well, as I have gone about my life, hoping, waiting and praying that one day I would have peace and be able to truly enjoy my time in Yellowstone, these folks have continued with their plans to destroy me.
I was completely unaware of how this was happening until a recent event got many of us talking and I was made aware that this had been an ongoing effort that these people were planning to continue until they got their way. Yes, I had continued to be the target of much gossip.
This event, in some ways, destroyed me – wore me out emotionally more than anything ever before in my life. I had done nothing wrong. In fact, as far as I can tell, my only crime was to come to Yellowstone to learn about the wolves. And, in that learning a passion for the animals was born and I couldn’t get enough of taking photos of wolves and writing about them. I had been blogging with photos for many years and so this activity came naturally to me. At the time I had no idea that it would be so popular – I was merely sharing my passion for Yellowstone and everything that it held. Well, I am a decent photographer, pretty good writer and a hard worker that was able to devote all of their time to Yellowstone. Doing what came naturally to me was my downfall because I did it so well. Perhaps I created competition, or my knack for telling the truth was undesirable in this atmosphere, or people were just plain used to having it all to themselves and intruders were not welcome. Or, people were jealous of the time I got to spend in the park, or of my photography and writing talents. All of that is just speculation but, remember, I stayed because I had done nothing wrong.
But, more than destroying me and wearing me out, this recent event revealed the truth of what some folks were up to and that truth set me free. It made me angry, sure, but it showed me that I was doing something right. People were trying to run me out of my/our national park and they had no right to say who could stay and who must go. Everything was put into perspective and my sensitivity to the rumors vanished with the understanding that these were small, sick people who did not like their own lives and so were focused on mine.
These folks won’t stop – they will keep right on doing what it is that they do. But, more and more people will realize the truth. I have been around for long enough now for people to see my actions louder than the words spoken against me. And, just to be fair – I am not outgoing, super friendly, very personable – not good at small talk and I am focused on my purpose. I expect people to accept me for who I am, just like I do for them.
But, I have stopped. The lies no longer have any power over me and so I am finally able to move on. And, I will enjoy my time in Yellowstone despite/to spite their efforts to destroy me.
And, so, in finally telling this story, I am also writing the ending. I am still in Yellowstone and will stay for as long as I want. And, with this cloud lifted from over my being and when I recover from the exhaustion, my work will be even better than before because my focus and commitment are even stronger.
I end this with a quote from a person who is no longer my friend, due their lack of credibility and the fact that they put their own needs ahead of the needs and welfare of the wolves.
“Drive them crazy with success and no slow down or self-consciousness from you. Water off a duck’s back. You could care less what they say or do, there is no stopping you by idle tongues.”
The end of drama – let’s protect Yellowstone Wolves!