By Joe Donnelly
The bullet he'd been dodging for many years finally caught up with the great Oregon wolf, OR4, Thursday. In the early afternoon, officials from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) shot to death the patriarch of the Imnaha Pack from a helicopter over Wallowa County, an area where gray wolves dispersing from Idaho first began returning to Oregon, where they'd been killed off in the mid-20th century. Shot along with OR4 was his likely pregnant partner, OR 39, known as Limpy for an injured and badly healed leg, and their two pups.
The animals were killed for being presumed guilty of the deaths of four calves and a sheep on private pastureland on the fringes of the pack's territory in northeast Oregon.
Rob Klavins, who has been a wolf advocate on the front lines of the cultural and political battles that have accompanied the reemergence of wolves in the West as field coordinator for the conservation group Oregon Wild, heard the helicopters take off and knew the sound spelled doom for OR4.
“It was hard for a lot of people," said Klavins, reached on Friday at his home near the town of Joseph in Wallowa County. “Even some of his detractors had a begrudging respect" for OR4, the fourth wolf to be fitted with a location-tracking radio collar in Oregon. He weighed at least 115 pounds, the largest known wolf in Oregon at the time of his death, and survived for 10 years, three years longer than most wolves in the wild.
OR4 and his progeny have been largely responsible for the gray wolf's intrepid return to lands where the species was long ago hunted, poisoned, trapped, burned and otherwise chased nearly to extinction.
Cattle farmers, who receive a subsidy from taxpayers to graze their animals on vast ranges of publicly-owned land where the wolves also dwell, worry about wolves killing their property. Hunters want first shot at the game, such as deer and elk, that wolves favor. But livestock depredations in Oregon are extremely rare, and have become scarcer even as the wolf population has increased. Meanwhile, ODFW's data shows that Oregon's wolves are having no effect on elk, deer and wild sheep populations. Of course, those statistics are small consolation to the rancher who suffered the loss of property in March.
In early 2008, OR4 and his mate at the time, OR2, were among the first wolves to swim the Snake River, scale enormous mountains, and establish a foothold for wolves in game-rich Wallowa County. Since then, more than 110 Oregon wolves have spread from the remote northeast corner of the state, over the Cascades, and to near the California border. Many of these pioneering wolves were spawned by OR4.
Beginning with his first pack in 2009, OR4 fathered, provided for, and protected dozens of wolf pups that survived in the Oregon wild—and made their way all the way south to California, where OR7, known as the “lone wolf," trekked in 2012. Today, OR7 has his own pack in the California-Oregon border region. The alpha female of the Shasta pack—the first gray wolf pack to make California home since 1924—is the offspring of OR4.
That OR4 lasted this long is source of wonder to those who have followed his starring role in Oregon's gray-wolf comeback story. In 2011, a brief cattle-killing spree by the Imnaha pack had him slated for execution. A suit by Oregon Wild and other conservation groups stayed the execution order and OR4 settled into a mostly incident-free life as Oregon's biggest and baddest-ass wolf.
There is good reason to believe OR4 was cast out of his pack early this year, and his decision to move into livestock calving ground was borne of the need of an old, slowing and dull-toothed male—no longer able to bring down elk—to fend for his hobbled mate, to whom he was endearingly loyal, and his yearling pups.
“He was an outlaw wolf with a heart of gold," said Amaroq Weiss, the West Coast Wolf Coordinator for the Center for Biological Diversity. Weiss recalled a 2009 video of OR4 leading his Imnaha pack up a snowy mountainside as a defining image from the early days of Oregon's wolf recovery. “He was definitely a father figure."
The Shasta Pack that is part of OR4's legacy will soon be coming into its second litter. It is protected by the California Endangered Species Act. In Oregon, though, wolves were removed from the endangered species list in November, which allowed OR4's pack to be shot to death Thursday. Activists have sued to re-list the animals.
The wolf management plan that provided the legal justification for the killing of OR4, Limpy and their pups is up for review in Oregon this year. The state has determined that the wolf population met benchmarks that allow livestock producers more lethal options when dealing with depredating wolves. Klavins and others would like to make sure the updated plan calls for every non-lethal option to be exhausted before wolves are killed.
“What was done [Thursday] was sufficient for an agency that views wildlife as agents of damage and whose primary job is to protect private interests at taxpayer expense," Klavins said. “But it's not good enough for a public agency whose mission is to 'protect and enhance Oregon's fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations,' " he continued, quoting from the agency's official documents. “They need to do better. Oregonians deserve better."
Wolf advocate Wally Sykes is one of the few to have encountered OR4 in the wild.
“I was kind of initially prepared for something to happen, but the visual image of an old wolf being hunted down by a helicopter, with his hobbling mate by his side and his two freaked out pups along with him, is an ugly picture to carry in your head," Sykes said. He said officials he spoke with were “not at all happy to have killed these wolves."
Sykes' recording of OR4's howl can be heard here:
This article was reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
OlgaMiltsova / iStock / Getty Images Plus
By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.
1. Fragrance – Avoid It<p>One of the fastest ways to narrow down your product options is immediately eliminating any product that promotes a fragrance, or parfum. That scent of "fresh breeze" or lemon might initially smell good, but the fragrance does not last. What does last? The concoction of various undisclosed and unregulated chemicals that created that fragrance.</p><p>Many fragrances contain phthalates, which are linked to many health risks including reproductive problems and cancer.</p>
2. With Bleach? Do Without<p>Going scent-free should have narrowed down your options substantially – now, check the front of the remaining packaging. Any that include ammonia or chlorine bleach ought to go, as these substances are irritating and corrosive to your body. While bleach is commonly known as a powerful disinfectant, there are safer alternatives that you can use in your home, such as sodium borate or hydrogen peroxide.</p><p>While you're at it, check if there are any warnings on the label – "flammable," "use in ventilated area," etc. – if the product is hazardous, that's a red flag and should be avoided.</p>
3. Check the Back Label<p>Flip to the back of the remaining contenders and check out that ingredient list. Less is more, here. Opt for a shorter ingredient list with words you recognize and/or can pronounce.</p><p>You may notice many products do not have ingredient lists – while this doesn't necessarily mean they contain toxic ingredients, transparency is key. Feel free to look up a list online, or stick to products that are open about their ingredients.</p>
4. Ingredients to Avoid<p>We already mentioned that cleaners containing fragrance or parfum, and bleach or ammonia should be avoided, but there are other ingredients to look out for as well.</p><ul><li>Quaternary ammonium "quats" – lung irritants that contribute to asthma and other breathing problems. Also linger on surfaces long after they've been cleaned.</li><li>Parabens – Known hormone disruptor; can contribute to ailments such as cancer</li><li>Triclosan – triclosan and other antibacterial chemicals are registered with the EPA as pesticides. Triclosan is a known hormone disruptor and can also impact your immune system.</li><li>Formaldehyde – Causes irritation of eyes, nose, and throat; studies suggest formaldehyde exposure is linked with certain varieties of cancer. Can be found in products or become a byproduct of chemical reactions in the air.</li></ul>
Cleaning Products and Toxics: The Bottom Line<p>Do your research. There are many cleaning products available, but taking these steps will drastically reduce your options and help keep your home toxic-free. Protecting your home from bacteria and viruses is important, but make sure you do so in a way that doesn't introduce other health risks into the home.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank">Environmental Health News</a>. </em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649054624#/" target="_self"></a></p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
JasonOndreicka / iStock / Getty Images
Twenty-five years ago, a food called Tofurky made its debut on grocery store shelves. Since then, the tofu-based roast has become a beloved part of many vegetarians' holiday feasts.
By Jessica Corbett
A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."
- Climate Crisis: What We Can Learn From Indigenous Traditions ... ›
- 10 Organizations Honoring Native People on Thanksgiving ... ›
- Biden Vows to Ax Keystone XL if Elected - EcoWatch ›
Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.