The Return of the Wolves to The Rockies

A Clash of Conservationists and Communities

 

Gardiner, MT

 

‘Wolves are Democrats,’ I was told more than once; they symbolize Big Government and regulation and all the ways that distant bureaucrats and coastal elites want to destroy the cherished rural ranching culture of the West.” - Christopher Solomon, contributing editor for Outside magazine.

The purposeful reintroduction of the gray wolf to parts of its natural range in the Northern Rockies, begun less than seventy years after their near extermination from the lower 48, is one of the most contentious land management issues in America. The rehabilitation of wolves has had revolutionary implications for a variety of groups, including many ranching and hunting communities, native tribes, and conservationists. The issue of gray wolves touches on civics and federalism, identity and power, and on the relationship between humans and the natural world. Who should call the shots: individuals, counties, states, or the feds? Are wolves a threat to the Western ranching livelihood, a symbol for Native American values and resilience, or both? Do we have a responsibility to preserve wild places and animals, even if it comes at the expense of local economies?

Our trip takes us to the edge of the largest natural ecosystem in the continental United States to witness these issues - the animals, the people, and the ideas - first hand.

 

Leaders

 

Trip Leader Ben GetraerBen Getraer '19

 

When he was three and a half, Benjy looked out of his bedroom window in Massachusetts and saw a wolf walking across the snow in the darkness outside. Of course, his parents did not believe him, and consultation with the paw-prints and the neighbors suggested it might have been a coyote. Along with a harboring a continued preoccupation with wolves, Benjy has since spent a good deal of time moseying in the outdoors on foot, staring at MATLAB code in a variety of locations on campus, and playing guitar. Geology, Napoleon Dynamite, and "stir the beans" are just a few things that get his motor running. Above all, Benjy loves adventuring with exciting and curious groups of people, and developing new perspectives on people, ideas, and places through direct engagement.

 

Trip Leader Juliana Jiranek

Juliana Jiranek '20

Juliana Jiranek is junior from Richmond, Virginia who is concentrating in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. On campus, she is an Outdoor Action Leader, a tutor for the Petey Greene Program, a member of the Conservation Society, and a member of the vonHoldt lab, which studies the genetics of dogs and wolves. She owes her love for the environment to family trips to Yellowstone, and she is so excited to return to the park in a different context.