‘Yellowstone’: Does New Season 4 Trailer Hint at a New Opponent for the Duttons?

by Jennifer Shea

As the owner of what is, in the fictional universe of “Yellowstone,” the largest contiguous ranch in the United States, John Dutton (Kevin Costner) presents an appealing target for all sorts of enemies. The neighboring Native American reservation. Developers. Fellow ranchers. Hedge funds.

And now, perhaps, environmental protesters?

The newest trailer offers audiences a glimpse of Season 4 of “Yellowstone.” And it includes what appear to be random protesters. There’s also Summer Higgins (Piper Perabo) standing in front of a sign with the word “murder” on it and shouting at the top of her lungs.

We already know that Higgins is a new recurring character in Season 4. She is a protester who hails from Portland. And she shows up in Dutton’s valley to oppose using a state-funded police force to protect industrialized farming and the killing of animals, according to Deadline.

But based on the trailer, it looks like Higgins will have some company. Could these environmental protesters become a major thorn in Dutton’s side?

Anti-Ranching Activists Are a Real Thing

Anti-ranching activists are not unique to “Yellowstone.” They populate the real world, too. And there have been multiple recent examples of standoffs between ranchers and protesters.

For example, in Point Reyes, California, a fourth-generation rancher named Robert McClure faced a crowd of more than 200 anti-ranching activists last year. The protesters wanted him to stop animal agriculture at the McClure Dairy. They also wanted the Point Reyes National Seashore to stop culling tule elk.

“This is a microcosm of a national issue,” Fleur Dawes, a spokeswoman for In Defense of Animals, told the Point Reyes Light. “Ranchers around the country are picking off our native wildlife.”

Meanwhile, calf roping, a mainstay of the rodeo lifestyle that also plays a major part in “Yellowstone,” has also come under fire from activists in recent years.

In Houston, protesters have been lining up outside the Livestock Show & Rodeo for several years. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals told the Houston Chronicle in 2019 that rodeos “celebrate a pathetic side of this wild west when bored men had nothing better to do than abuse their livestock”

But the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo’s managing director pointed out that calf roping is a necessary practice on ranches, where it is used to check the calves’ health and make sure they don’t need to be quarantined.

‘Yellowstone’ Represents Ranchers, Cowboys in a Dignified Way

Of course, not every rancher has his own helicopter like Dutton does. But for the most part, “Yellowstone” strives for a detailed and accurate representation of the ranching and cowboying life.

In fact, Lloyd actor Forrie J. Smith is a real-life rancher and former rodeo cowboy. And he said he hears from real-life denizens of the world “Yellowstone” portrays all the time.

“Just last week, I got a call from a rodeo cowboy in New Mexico. He told me, ‘You’re doing a great job representing us. Thank you,'” Smith told Good Housekeeping in 2019.

So what if environmental protesters are in fact a new foe in Season 4? Looks like it’s just another real-world detail that shows “Yellowstone” trying to stay true to life.