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BY ROBERTO GUTIERREZ

INSPIRATION

The Wolf Trackers

Like many things today, the wolf exists as a paradox as an embodiment of freedom, relatable as man’s best friend and as a ferocious killer both feared and admired. In this time of political polarization, reintroducing wolves into the wilderness has become a primary discussion for debate. For decades, Jack Wolfskin has made protecting wolves around the world part of our core values. Naturally, as we grow roots in North America we look to continue the tradition. After careful evaluation, we are pleased to introduce two scientists turned business owners who spend their day tracking wolves in Yellowstone National Park.

Nathan and Linda are a husband and wife duo who own and operate Yellowstone Wolf Tracker, one of the premier wolf tracking operations in Yellowstone. Nathan’s parents were Yellowstone Rangers and he spent the majority of his youth exploring the endless trails and backcountry of the park. Linda did her masters research on the reintroduction of the wolves in 1996 and has been boots on the ground since the wolves arrived. The couple is a veritable powerhouse in wolf conservation.

In preparation for our time with Nathan and Linda, we interviewed ranchers, researchers that supported ranchers, forest rangers, and read up on the statistics and impact wolves have on agriculture. We wanted to facilitate candid conversations from both sides of the table so that when we entered the park to look for wild wolves it was with an open mind. This preparation made meeting Nathan and Linda even more exciting. How would they approach conservation, how did they interact with ranchers in the Yellowstone area? What would get them as fired up as those previously interviewed?

Yellowstone Wolf Tracker operates out of Gardiner, Montana which is the North entrance to Yellowstone National Park and home to Nathan and Linda. So we drove to Gardiner, slept in our trucks, and met up at the Visitor Center Parking lot an hour before dawn. It was a brisk morning and though we were all tired, it was full of smiles and good spirits. From here, Nathan and Linda led us into the park where we spotted wolves, bears, bison, and even a pack of wolves “negotiating” with a brown bear, trying to convince her to share a freshly killed elk. It was reminder of why we love and respect the outdoors.

Throughout the day, we visited various spots and crossed paths with other wolf tracking companies, all of which were friends with Nathan and Linda. For me, the most memorable part of that day was chatting with Nathan. We talked of wolves and their relationship with people. We discussed politics, growth, park management and much more. Most notable were the long pauses between our conversations where Nathan just seemed to be enjoying the sounds of the river and the crisp cold air. Nathan has spent his entire life in Yellowstone, yet he still has moments of bliss appreciating the park for what it is. I chuckled to myself trying to think of the last time, I just sat somewhere and appreciated it for what it was.

Below is a teaser to the full mini-documentary coming out in December. Follow us @JackWolfskin_NA on Instagram and join our mailing list at the bottom of the page.