When the drama “Wind River” came out last summer, I wrote a viewer advisory that became one of the most-read articles on this site. But readers still wanted to know: Did they really shoot a coyote in the movie? It looked so realistic, after all.
Since so many of you wanted to know more about the scene, I reached out to Gentle Jungle, who has worked with animals on such films as “Gladiator” and “Dances With Wolves” and provided the animals on “Wind River.”
A Gentle Jungle rep told Moviepaws exactly how the scene was shot: “It was a taxidermied coyote that was shot and lying there in the snow. They put it in with the real ones standing there [and then shot it].” She then quickly nixed one of my (erroneous) theories that a coyote had been shot with a tranquilizer for the scene. “That hasn’t been done for years…. it’s too risky,” she said.
I also spoke to MAP (Movie Animals Protected), The group did not monitor this film shoot, which took place in Wyoming and Utah, but they reassured me that the well-respected Gentle Jungle would never jeopardize an animal’s welfare for the sake of a film scene. And they mentioned that tranquilizing animals — which happened on the Canadian set of “Brokeback Mountain” — is prohibited.
“Using anesthesia to facilitate filming has been prohibited since 1997 after causing several animal deaths during a production,” Karen Rosa of the AHA said in a 2006 statement regarding “Brokeback Mountain.” “Regardless of how it’s administered, anesthesia endangers an animal’s life and health. That’s why we require production companies to find alternatives – like humane training or digital enhancement – that create the same effect without jeopardizing the animal’s safety.”
So there’s the answer: A “stuffie” was used instead of a live coyote in “Wind River” and no animals were tranquilized on set.
The film does not carry a “no animals were harmed” credit, however, because Humane Hollywood (who has trademarked that phrase) told Moviepaws they did not monitor the set either.