‘Wind River’ Viewer Advisory


Update (January 9, 2018): After readers wanted more details, we reached out to animal trainers Gentle Jungle, who confirmed that a taxidermied coyote was shot in the scene in question. Read more about how the scene was shot.

Jeremy Renner stars as a game tracker drawn into a murder investigation in the new film “Wind River,” set on the Wyoming Native American reservation of the same name.

While the brutality that humans visit on each other is the most disturbing thing in this film, but we also see his character, Cory Lambert, protecting the local sheep and cows, killing natural predators when necessary. As he tells FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), “I hunt predators.”

There’s really just one or two scenes that might bother animal lovers.

Read on for spoilers:


When we first meet him, he’s lying in wait to scare off a pack of coyotes*. He’s clearly an excellent shot and hits one coyote who goes down. The rest run off, leaving the sheep alone. [*This article originally identified the predators as wolves, not coyotes. Now that the script for the film is online, they are clearly referred to as coyotes.]

The sheep spot the killers approaching and huddle into a tight circle — with the rams forming an outer layer of protection.
If coyotes could laugh, they would laugh at this.
The two wary coyotes; however, make no attempt to approach. They raise their noses to the air — sucking in the wind’s secrets. And just like that, they disappear.
The other three move eagerly toward their lunch.

These are clearly real coyotes in the film, but it’s not clear if the animal was hit with a tranquilizer dart** of was trained to play dead.  The “animal wrangler” credited on the film is Sled Reynolds who also worked with the wolves on “Dances With Wolves” and whose long list of credits includes “Gladiator,” “The Ghost and the Darkness,” and “Water for Elephants.”)

** [No, no tranquilizer darts were used. They have been prohibited in films since 1997.]


Later, Lambert is called to the scene of a dead cow. From the tracks, he determines the cow was killed by a female mountain lion and her two cubs. He sets out to track her to her lair when he comes across the body of a young Native American woman, who froze to death in the middle of nowhere.

He abandons his search for the mountain lion to help Banner’s murder investigation. When he stumbles across the lion’s lair later on, he’s distracted by his colleague in need, and leaves them be. He has worse predators to hunt.


Read my full review at Forces of Geek.



6 thoughts on “‘Wind River’ Viewer Advisory

  1. I am confused as to whether they really shot the coyote.. I had to turn off the entire movie I paid 6 bucks to watch. It pissed me off.. I f anyone can tell me for sure those animals were not hurt I may watch this film.

  2. I tend to agree with Joel Cruzada’s comment. That piece of taxidermy is a very good actor. But the Peckinpah-like spurt of blood may suggest it was as Gentle Jungle say. I’m no hunter but I don’t think that would be likely with modern armaments. But then there is a forum discussion
    where people claim to have seen an international cut of the movie where all 3 coyotes are shot and, with one exception, are terribly disappointed at not seeing the full slaughter. The lawyers have been in action so the YouTube link they give has been taken down by Google. It would also go against the whole Native American ethos of the film that everything has the right to live unless there is a good reason it shouldn’t, not for entertainment. Still not sure, but it doesn’t look good to me.

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