“While we’re out there, I remember something Andrea said to me in the car, about why Yellowstone is so powerful. ‘Doug’s theory is that the element of risk is what’s important. It’s what makes wilderness wild.’ We’re so quiet I can hear my own quick, scared, rabbity breaths, and as I revel in my own fear I realize they’re right.”
Having lived in Wyoming for the first 18 years of my life, I came to understand the proximity to danger in the wild…rattle snakes, bears, the occasional moose charge. The concept of “the wild” in Wyoming is very interesting…it is, indisputably, why many people choose to live there, particularly near Yellowstone, about 60 miles from which I was born.
Grizzly bears, for example, have a different status than wolves, to many Wyoming residents. Some say it is because wolves “kill for sport.” Or “they are pure evil”. Something about wolves, and their proximity to the places we choose to live (in the “wild” areas), sets people off in a different way than grizzlies.
Federal vs. state management, ranching (economics), and personal political persuasions regarding both come into play in force when faced with situations both particular and abstract when it comes to the wild. But I think the simple question is always the same and always relevant…do you want to live in a world that has some wild left? Or not?
This article from Slate lays out a brilliant case regarding grizzlies in Yellowstone. It is long, but a must read for those interested in National Parks and management concerns.
Photograph: James Yule