Endangered Wolf’s 8,700-Mile Journey Ends in Tragedy
A lone female wolf had traveled more than 8,700 miles in nearly two years through California, Oregon and Nevada in search of a mate before her radio collar went silent in December 2019, The New York Times reported. Then, California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists received an influx of data from her collar indicating she had stopped moving in California's Shasta County. On Feb. 5, they located her.
"Unfortunately, what they found was her carcass," department spokeswoman Jordan Traverso told The New York Times.
The female, named OR-54, was an important symbol for the return of wolves to California. Her father, OR-7, was the first wolf to enter California in around 100 years when he crossed south from Oregon in 2011. The event helped inspire California's Fish and Game Commission to vote to protect wolves under the state Endangered Species Act in 2014, The Washington Post pointed out.
OR-7 returned to Oregon to establish the Rogue Pack, but his offspring, who was fitted with a radio collar in Oregon in 2017, headed south again on Jan. 24, 2018 when she crossed into California to begin her journey. She spent most of the next two years in the state, despite two return trips to Oregon and one sojourn to Nevada. In California, she wandered through Butte, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Shasta and Tehama counties, The Sacramento Bee reported. As of December, she had traveled at least 8,712 miles, averaging 13 miles a day.
"After the arduous journey wolves have had to get back to California, the loss of any wolf is a step back for wolf recovery," Defenders of Wildlife senior California representative Pamela Flick said in a statement. "OR-54 traveled more than 8,700 miles, from Oregon to California and even into Nevada and was a symbol of hope for the next generation of wolves."
Sad News! The #California Department of Fish & Wildlife Service announced #OR54, an #endangered #graywolf, was foun… https://t.co/AhnXFAffOs— Defenders of Wildlife (@Defenders of Wildlife)1581099013.0
The average wolf travels 50 to 100 miles to find a mate, so OR-54's odyssey was "extraordinarily long," Misi Stine, outreach director at the International Wolf Center in Minnesota, told The New York Times.
"She's going to be one of those ones who people say, 'Wow, she was exceptional,' because we know her story," Stine said.
The circumstances of her death are being investigated. OR-54 was three or four when she died, and Center for Biological Diversity wolf advocate Amaroq Weiss told The Washington Post that most lone wolves only live to be four or five. They are vulnerable to attacks by other wolf packs, defensive kicks from elks, or human attacks. OR-54 did have potential human enemies, because she was suspected in at least five livestock attacks in Plumas County, according to The Sacramento Bee.
"We hope OR-54 died a natural death and wasn't killed illegally," Weiss said in a statement. "The return of wolves is a major environmental milestone in our state, and the vast majority of Californians want to see wolves recovered here."
There are 15 to 20 wolves now living in California, according to official estimates reported by The New York Times. The Trump administration has proposed stripping gray wolves of federal Endangered Species Act protections in the lower 48 states, but Weiss told The Washington Post that those protections had been essential for wolf recovery in places like California.
"We'd never have wolves coming back to California, coming to Oregon, if they hadn't been listed for federal protections," she said.
This week marks the official start of fall, but longer nights and colder days can make it harder to spend time outdoors. Luckily, there are several inspiring environmental films that can be streamed at home.
1. Kiss the Ground<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ccc5f0c92a5603e68aec39e56b0db02a"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/K3-V1j-zMZw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 22</strong></p><p>Between <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wildfires-california-washington-oregon-photos-2647585008.html" target="_self">wildfires devastating the U.S. West Coast</a> and <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tropical-storm-beta-landfall-2647760268.html" target="_self">storms battering the Gulf</a>, the impacts of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/climate-change/" target="_self">climate crisis</a> can feel overwhelming right now. <em><a href="https://kissthegroundmovie.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Kiss the Ground</a> </em>offers an alternative to all of the bad news by focusing on solutions.</p><p>The film, directed by Josh and Rebecca Tickell and narrated by Woody Harrelson, explains how we can heal the Earth through "regenerative agriculture," farming practices that draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and into soil as a way to restore soil health, which in turn boosts ecosystems and food supplies.</p><p>"<em>Kiss the Ground </em>shows how feasible it is to make these changes at a grassroots level immediately and make a truly substantive impact with low cost and easy to implement solutions," Executive Producer RJ Jain said in an email. "This is why I got involved."</p>
2. Public Trust: The Fight for America's Public Lands<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5338f7a2931e356910026e5fd76fac56"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jsKMTAaj_wQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: YouTube</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 25, 2 p.m. EDT </strong></p><p>This <a href="https://www.patagonia.com/films/public-trust/" target="_blank">award-winning documentary</a> tells the stories of Indigenous activists, journalists, whistleblowers and historians working to protect America's <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/public-lands" target="_self">public lands</a>. The film focuses on three political struggles: the shrinking of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/bears-ears" target="_self">Bears Ears</a> National Monument in Utah, the mining of Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota and the opening of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/Arctic-National-Wildlife-Refuge" target="_self">Arctic National Wildlife Refuge</a> to fossil fuel exploration.</p><p><em>Public Trust</em> was directed by David Garrett Byars and produced by Jeremy Rubingh. Patagonia Films, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and actor Robert Redford are executive producers. It will be <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGjnIG7puzY" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">released</a> on YouTube in time for <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/national-public-lands-day-2640656776.html" target="_self">National Public Lands Day</a>.</p><p>"Our country is fortunate to have millions of acres of public lands, including National Parks, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and Wilderness set aside for future generations," Redford said. "Sadly, these lands that belong to you and me are under unprecedented threats from the greed of big corporations, eager to weaken restrictions in the pursuit of profits. Many of our current politicians are also to blame. <em>Public Trust</em> tells the story of citizens who are fighting back. It's a much-needed wake-up call for all of us who want to preserve our unique and wild cultural heritage."</p>
3. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="156438a30836a765d7a92982545fc334"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B_OFZvAd05Y?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Oct. 4</strong></p><p>Beloved nature broadcaster <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/David-Attenborough" target="_self">David Attenborough</a> has spent his career introducing viewers to the wonders of our planet. In recent years, his footage of albatrosses swallowing <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/plastics" target="_self">plastic</a> in <em>Blue Planet II</em> has been credited with <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/2018-fighting-plastic-waste-2624606566.html" target="_self">helping to ramp up</a> the global fight against plastic pollution. Now, in this <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">World Wildlife Fund</a> (WWF)-produced <a href="https://www.attenborough.film/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">documentary</a>, he reflects on the defining moments of his career and the devastating changes he has witnessed.</p><p><em>David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet,</em> which was also produced by Silverback Films and directed by Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes and Keith Scholey, features an intimate conversation between Attenborough and Sir Michael Palin as the broadcaster reflects on his life and a career that took him to every continent on Earth. In addition to streaming on Netflix, the movie will be available in select theaters starting Sept. 28.</p><p>"For decades, David has brought the natural world to the homes of audiences worldwide, but there has never been a more significant moment for him to share his own story and reflections," WWF executive producer Colin Butfield said in a <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/david-attenborough-life-our-planet" target="_blank">statement</a>. "This film coincides with a monumental year for environmental action as world leaders make critical decisions on nature and climate. It sends a powerful message from the most inspiring and celebrated naturalist of our time."</p>
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