August 12th, 3:34pm

Wildlife biologist. Political consultant. Author. Folklorist. Storyteller. Jim Garry is a fascinating man, and ever gracious, as he helped us work through a flat tire. Over shrimp tacos in Gardiner, we swapped stories and learned about Jim’s many hats.

Originally from Texas, Jim joined the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 1969. He’s been freelancing ever since, which gives him a lot of experience in a lot of fields. We talked about Wyoming politics, and the idea of the American West. As the least populated state in the country, Wyoming is a “medium size town with a long Main Street.” But what’s kept Jim here all these years is his work with the grizzly bear.

As a consultant for the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, a team working towards the preservation of the bear, Jim has logged hundreds of hours observing these animals. He shared a story about coming face to face with a mama bear and her cubs, witnessing the power and intelligence of this animal, not 7 feet apart. Jim was hooked. For him, the grizzly bear is the West manifest.

Jim’s warmth extended to the tourists of Yellowstone. He’s glad the Park Service has hired Mandarin-speaking seasonal staff this summer, to accommodate an influx of Chinese tourists. Jim shared that while many Americans are also responsible for unsafe behaviors, foreign tourists harbor different cultural understandings of safe and not safe, often finding themselves in dangerous situations in a wild place. And his desire to visit a geyser basin in Greenland helps him understand the Yellowstone tourist: that Old Faithful is not only an international icon, it’s a site for pilgrimage.