FOX 11 Archives: Dick Cavett And The Wolves

(FOX 11) Talk show legend Dick Cavett stopped by our morning show, Good Day L.A. last week and I had a brief chat with him. We talked about one of his shows in particular. More than 40 years ago Cavett had as a guest on his program "wolf advocate" John Harris, who was on a nationwide tour with a couple of timber wolves, Jethro and Clem. Harris was trying to raise awareness about the country's endangered wild wolf population, which at the time was threatened with extinction through trapping and aerial hunting. My high school buddy and roommate, Scott Sway, went on the tour with Harris and was at the Cavett Show taping. 

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The two wolves were attention-grabbers; magnificent animals that weighed as much as 150 pounds, which is about as big as wolves get. Jethro was almost pure white; Clem was gray. They had been around humans all their lives and were quite sociable. They made great TV guests.

Later that evening, after the show, Harris and his group checked into their New York City hotel, leaving the animals in a cargo van. The next morning my friends found both wolves dead inside the truck. They had been fed poisoned meat.

The poisonings received lots of local news coverage and on his show that night, Cavett told his audience what had happened, and personally offered a reward to help find the critters' killer. That offer led to a suspect's arrest. She was known in the neighborhood as "the cat lady," and she had an extreme hatred of dogs.  Apparently, to her, the two giant wolves were just big dogs.

Back to Cavett. In my brief conversation with him, he remembered the names of the two animals, his $10,000 reward and, in recalling the circumstances of the case, he wondered out loud what kind of person could commit that kind of crime. I mentioned that people who were lobbying for wolf protection were thankful to Cavett for giving their cause a broad platform. Within a few years laws were passed to restrict the aerial hunting of wolves and offer them a measure of protection.  

Given the impressive list of people Cavett has interviewed over the years, I was amazed that he remembered the names of a couple of guests he met 43 years ago who never answered any of his questions.

I've included two  photos I shot of Jethro and Clem at a Hollywood fundraiser for Actors and Others For Animals.  Despite their menacing looks, both were quite gentle. Clem is the one staring at us from the chair. Jethro is pictured showing off his teeth. The third shot is of Clem standing up to my friend Scott. Who couldn't love that face? I'm referring to the wolf's face, of course.

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