Patt Morrison

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A gray wolf named Journey makes a solo trip to California

by Patt Morrison

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A howling wolf. iStockPhoto

In late 2011, a lone gray wolf with the biologists' name OR7 crossed into Northern California from Oregon - the first time a wild gray wolf has set foot in the state in 88 years.

His trek also brought him fame and a nickname, Journey, chosen in a competition by schoolchildren in his home state of Oregon. GPS technology tracking Journey’s daily movements has allowed Journey to captivate the imagination of Californians. At least two Twitter accounts update his hypothetical musings as he wanders in search of a mate. Gray wolves, killed by the thousands by ranchers and targeted by government bounties, had become nearly extinct in the lower 48 states by the 20th century; in 1974, they were protected under the Endangered Species Act. Scientists and environmentalists have hopeful but more realistic assessments of Journey’s adventures. In the mid-1990s, 66 Canadian wolves were released into Yellowstone National Park and their population has grown to nearly 1,700.


Can the gray wolf still fit into the dwindling modern ecosystem? What can humans do to coexist with gray wolves?


Karen Kovacs, Wildlife Program Manager, Northern region, California Fish and Game

Matthew Kirby, Washington representative for The Sierra Club

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