“Wanna go get drunk? Watch some wolves killing elk in a park?” This line from the Paramount series Yellowstone sprang to mind reading Katie Jackson’s essay about wolf-watching in Yellowstone National Park. Jackon makes no such reference: Growing up on the Lazy JK ranch in Montana, she has lived the real thing, with no elaborate drama, just the stark reality of the state’s two conflicting industries — agriculture and eco-tourism. This personal take deftly highlights the nuances of these industries and their different viewpoints. 

As I watch my parents, I can’t tell who is more excited: my diabetic dad, who is so fixated on the wolves he forgets to check his blood sugar, or my mom, who is monopolizing the best scope. Both are animated as they rapid-fire questions at Varley. “What are they doing? Can you tell how old they are? Why are there so many?” None of their queries have to do with hunting. Here in the Lamar Valley, 200 miles away from their ranch, wolves aren’t a nuisance, they’re a novelty.