#BlackLivesMatter and wildlife refuge gunmen in the USA, who’s the terrorist?


White supremacist gunmen in Oregon vs. Black Lives Matter, cartoon

This cartoon from the USA is about the recent occupation by ‘YallQaeda’ gunmen of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in the USA.

The cartoon makes one think about the Black Lives Matter movement. Contrary to the extreme right gunmen in Oregon, they don’t run around brandishing guns. Contrary to the extreme right gunmen in Oregon, they don’t occupy federal government buildings while brandishing guns. Contrary to the extreme right gunmen in Oregon, they don’t threaten to kill police if police would try to get them out of these buildings. Contrary to the extreme right gunmen in Oregon, they don’t say their occupation of a federal building is the start of a violent overthrow of the federal government of the USA.

Yet, the Department of Homeland Security in the USA links the Black Lives Matter movement to ‘domestic terrorism’ and spies on it.

On 2 September 2015, there was an article in the Washington Times, a far right daily owned by the ‘Unification Church’, also known as the Moonie cult. The title of the article was ‘Black Lives Matter is a terrorist group’. The article was by Washington Times employee Tim Constantine, a supporter of Republican Party presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

As we have pointed out, to qualify as terrorists, the Black Lives Matter movement should at least have done what the ‘YallQaeda’ gunmen have done; which they have not.

But, back to the cartoon. Let us, for the sake of argument, presume that the Black Lives Matter movement, like the white gunmen in Oregon … no, saying they are white does not say enough. As they are white supremacists on record as whitewashing slavery for African Americans … OK, let us presume that the Black Lives Matter movement, like ‘YallQaeda’, would run around brandishing guns. That they also would occupy federal government buildings while brandishing guns. That they would threaten to kill police if police would try to get them out of these buildings. That they would say their occupation of a federal building was the start of a violent overthrow of the federal government of the USA.

If so, then … one would have the situation as pictured in the right half of the cartoon. And very soon after that, a situation, not depicted in the cartoon: all people inside the federal building would be killed. As they would not be extreme right white supremacist gunmen.

Let us also presume that some small group of Muslims would have done the same as ‘YallQaeda’. That these hypothetical Muslim federal building occupiers, would say, like ‘YallQaeda’ says, that they did not want violence. That they would not start it, but would react violently if police would try to remove them. As they did not recognize the federal government, but considered the occupied building as headquarters of an Islamic state in Oregon and eventually all of the USA. Well, we all know what would have happened in that theoretical case. The right half of the cartoon. Then, very soon, everyone inside the building killed.

And, if not (not much of a chance), if there would be no bloodbath, then the Rupert Murdoch media, the Washington Times, the teabaggers, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, various conspiracy theorists, etc. etc. would claim that proved their point that President Obama really supposedly is a ‘closet Muslim’ and supposedly not born in the USA.

Oregon ‘terrorists’ don’t plan siege very well, put out plea for snacks and supplies: here.

‘YallQaeda’ gunmen occupation of bird refuge in Oregon, USA


This video from Oregon in the USA says about itself:

4 September 2012 – [American white] Pelican and other water birds, Malheur Lake

The other birds are western grebes with chicks.

By Niles Williamson in the USA:

Right-wing militia members occupy federal building in rural Oregon

5 January 2016

On Saturday, approximately two dozen armed, right-wing militia members took control of an unoccupied visitors’ center at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a federal nature preserve approximately 30 miles south of the city of Burns in sparsely populated Harney County, Oregon. The action is being carried out in protest against restrictions on government-controlled land.

The Malheur occupation began after a march by some 300 people in Burns to protest the reimprisonment of ranchers Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son Steven Hammond, 46, who were convicted in 2012 of setting fires on federal lands in 2001 and 2006.

Despite the protest and ongoing occupation, both Dwight and Steven Hammond voluntarily reported to prison Monday, while their lawyers sought clemency from President Obama. Suzie Hammond, Dwight Hammond’s wife, told Fox News that her family had no role in the occupation and she was not planning to visit the militiamen occupying Malheur.

The group, known as Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, is led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. Speaking to the Oregonian Saturday night, Ammon Bundy said the group was “planning on staying here for years, absolutely.” He added, “This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute.”

The Bundy family gained notoriety in 2014 after it rallied support among militia members in a standoff with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over grazing rights on federal property. The family successfully forced BLM agents to back down, an outcome that emboldened far-right elements throughout the country. …

While the occupation by the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom has so far attracted a very limited number of people, the group has been given substantial media coverage. Right-wing militia groups enjoy a sympathetic ear from sections of the Republican Party and the military. For all their attempts to portray themselves as common citizens, it is clear that they are working with experienced political forces.

During the standoff in 2014, which was covered extensively by Fox News, the Bundys received support from a number of Republican politicians, including Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, both now seeking their party’s nomination for president. The Bundy family, in turn, has donated money to the campaigns of both of Rand Paul and his father Ron Paul.

Ammon Bundy and the other militia members may couch their appeals in populist language, but they have a definite right-wing political agenda and see the Malheur occupation as an event that can strengthen and rally far-right forces.

In this context, it is notable that the response of the Obama administration and state law enforcement agencies is vastly different from what normally occurs when there are popular protests reflecting mass grievances, particularly over incidents of police violence.

The first official response from the White House to the occupation came on Monday and was decidedly low-key. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged that President Obama was aware of the situation and that the FBI was monitoring the situation and providing aid to local authorities, but insisted that the seizure of federal property remained a “local matter.” …

Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward released a statement Saturday urging residents to stay away from the area and maintain a “peaceful and united front.” He also warned that the group had “alternative motives to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

There is a palpable sense that federal and local officials are wary of generating any broader sympathy for the militiamen. The FBI released a statement indicating that it was working with the Harney County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police to “bring a peaceful resolution to the situation.”

Bloody assaults by federal agents on Ruby Ridge in northern Idaho in 1992 and the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas in 1993 fueled the growth of the right-wing militia movements throughout the US, culminating in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh, which killed 168 people and wounded more than 680 others.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the anti-government militia movement has experienced a notable growth in the last year, expanding from 202 to 276 known active organizations. With the onset of the economic crisis in 2008 and the election of Obama, the first African American president, the number of militia groups grew dramatically from 42 to a peak of 334 in 2011. …

To the extent that far-right tendencies can cast themselves as victims of government violence, they do so under conditions where much broader popular protests are severely limited and suppressed and genuine grievances cannot find a progressive outlet within the political or media establishment.

People are mocking the Oregon ‘militia’ on social media by calling them ‘YallQaeda‘ and ‘VanillaISIS‘: here.

YallQuaeda cartoon

YallQuaeda cartoon

Tribe Member: ‘We Would Have Been Dead By Now’ If We Acted Like Oregon Militants

The Oregon ‘Militia’ Needs Food, So I Mailed Them Pictures Of It. A picture is worth a thousand words. It tastes like paper, though: here.

ONE KILLED, SEVEN ARRESTED IN OREGON MILITANT STANDOFF “Ammon Bundy, leader of the month-long militant occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon, was arrested Tuesday in a highway confrontation with law enforcement that killed one of his followers and wounded another, according to the FBI.” [Nick Visser, HuffPost]

THREE MORE ARRESTED IN OREGON STANDOFF AS AMMON BUNDY URGES REST TO STAND DOWN The detained leader of the movement asked his followers to “Please stand down. Go home and hug your families.” The militants have occupied the federal building in Oregon for the past month. [Ryan Reilly, HuffPost]

See also here.

Right-wing extremist gunmen attack wildlife refuge in Oregon, USA


This 2013 video from Oregon in the USA is about the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. It was established by (Republican) President Theodore Roosevelt in 2008.

By James Tweedie:

United States: 150 gun-toting rightwingers seize government building

Monday 4th January 2016

A HEAVILY armed band of right-wing extremists seized a government building in the US state of Oregon on Saturday in protest at the jailing of two ranchers for arson.

However, the Hammond family, the Oregon ranchers at the center of the dispute, have denounced this occupation by the outsider gunmen.

The 150 gunmen occupied the headquarters of the the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, vowing to stay “for years.”

They include three sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was at the centre of a mass armed stand-off with the Bureau of Land Management in 2014 over $1 million (£677,000) he owes in grazing fees in Gold Butte, a proposed conservation area.

“We’re going to be freeing these lands up, and getting ranchers back to ranching, getting the loggers back to logging, getting the miners back to mining … under the protection of the people and not be afraid of this tyranny that’s been set upon them,” said Mr Bundy’s son Ammon in a Facebook video.

Ammon and his brother Ryan told reporters they had not ruled out violence if police tried to remove them.

Dwight Hammond and his son Steven admitted setting fires in 2001 and 2006, claiming it was to control weeds and protect their property from wildfires.

Police did not believe that, and said the fires were for poaching.

In this 2013 video, biologist Steve Herman talks about the impact of cattle on birds in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The James Tweedie article continues:

The pair were convicted three years ago, with the elder Mr Hammond serving three months and his son one year.

But a judge ruled their sentences too lenient under federal law and ordered them to serve an additional four years each.

President Barack Obama is set to meet Attorney General Loretta Lynch today to discuss gun-control measures that would circumvent the Republican-controlled Congress.

Conservatives complaining about mandatory minimum arson sentencing don’t mind when environmentalists are charged: here.

Oregon occupation: Armed militia occupying wildlife reserve wants to ‘overthrow US government and spark national uprising’, says local sheriff: here.

GUNMEN SEIZE FEDERAL BUILDING IN OREGON “A group of gunmen seized control of an empty federal building in remote Burns, Oregon, on Saturday, announced they planned to occupy the facility for ‘years’ and called for ‘patriots‘ to join them — and bring more guns. The men now occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge building include at least two sons of Cliven Bundy, the rancher whose legal battle with the government over grazing rights culminated in an armed standoff with federal authorities near Bunkerville, Nevada, in 2014.” [Nick Baumann, Igor Bobic, Jessica Schulberg, HuffPost]

If these gunmen, popularly called in the USA “YallQaeda”, would have had names like Ali or Abdullah, an/or if they would not have been white, then they would already have been shot dead by now.

YallQaeda cartoon

Perverted interpretation of US Constitution used to justify occupation of wildlife refuge: here.

Gray whale migration off Oregon, USA


This video says about itself:

Incredible Whale Encounter – Mother Gray Whale Lifts Her Calf Out of the Water! [HD]

14 March 2012

A mother gray whale lifted up her calf, seemingly to help it get a better view of the excited onlookers, and we caught it all on camera.

For in-depth information on the whales of San Ignacio and regulations of the area, see our blog post here.

The gray whales in San Ignacio Lagoon frequently approach small tourist boats, seeking the human interaction. While they could easily avoid the people, whose small boats are not allowed to closely approach whales, they actually seem to enjoy making contact.

Laguna San Ignacio is on the Pacific coast of Mexico’s Baja peninsula and is the destination for hundreds of gray whales, who migrate annually to the region from their feeding grounds in the Arctic. Here, where the water is shallow and warm, they give birth to their young. It lies within El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve and is the gray whale‘s last undisturbed nursing and breeding ground, largely thanks to an environmental victory in 2000 that stopped the development of an industrial salt plant.

Whale watching here is highly regulated, with limits on how many boats can be on the water, how long they can stay, and how close they can get; rather than closely approaching the whales, they must idle their engine and wait for the whales to approach the vessel, which is a common occurrence.

From The Register-Guard in Oregon in the USA:

Whale of a good time begins Sunday in coastal waters

Dec 25, 2015

While much of the state of Oregon seems to be underwater with rain this month, there are some mammals who probably haven’t noticed.

Winter Whale Watch Week on the Oregon Coast officially begins Sunday, and it’s one of the best times of the year to spot gray whales migrating south to Mexico to give birth to their calves, said Luke Parsons, a ranger for Oregon State Parks, in a statement.

Parsons said about 18,000 whales travel 12,000 miles from arctic waters in Alaska to Baja Mexico. The trip takes about three months.

Those who’d like to catch a glimpse of the massive animals can do so at a variety of viewing areas along the coast. Parsons said there are about 40 volunteer-staffed locations where gray whales can be spotted, including the 10th floor of the Inn at Spanish Head in Lincoln City, where visitors can spot the creatures nearly every daylight hour in late December.

There are also 24 viewing spots along the coast marked with “whale watching spoken here” signs. Volunteers at those locations will point out special behaviors such as spy hopping, breaching and spouting.

Volunteers also will discuss whale feeding, courtship and migration patterns.

Volunteers will be available at the locations from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

But if you can’t make it to the coast this coming week, don’t fret, as winter migration typically lasts through mid-January.

For a closer view, Dockside Charters in Depoe Bay offers daily whale-watching excursions.

Loren Goddard of Dockside said in a statement that the trips are popular, and he recommends booking reservations in advance.

“Visitors are curious about whales on the coast. And the whales are just as curious about us as we are of them. The best part is when they come right up to the boat,” Goddard said. “Seeing these mammals up close is a very special experience.”

Recovered birds freed in Oregon, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

American Avocet at International Bird Rescue

June 2013: Baby bird season at International Bird Rescue in California means a multitude of orphaned species, including this American Avocet chick, shown here feeding on live fish for the first time. Thanks to Isabel Luevano for photos and Kathy Koehler for the video peak at feeding time.

From International Bird Rescue in the USA on Twitter today:

Released 20 more seabirds cleaned of #MysteryGoo: 11 Surf Scoters, Eared Grebe, 4 Dunlins, & 4 Western Sandpipers: @Port of Oakland

Tufted puffins in the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Ten Tufted and Horned Puffins were released at Cannon Beach, Oregon following rehabilitation by the Wildlife Center of the North Coast. May 7, 2012.

From Associated Press today:

Wildlife agency wants to protect tufted puffins

1 hour ago

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington wildlife managers want to list tufted puffins as an endangered species in the state, while removing protective status for Stellar sea lions.

This is a wrong spelling by Associated Press. They are called Steller sea lions, named for the naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller.

The native seabirds, with striking feathers and a bright orange bill, were once common in the San Juan Islands and along the coast.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife says there’s been a dramatic decline in their historic breeding sites in recent decades.

Meanwhile, the agency says the population of Stellar sea lions that range from southeast Alaska to northern California has grown steadily and should be removed from the state’s threatened species list.

The federal government removed that population from federal protection in 2013.

The state is seeking public comment this month. A public hearing is scheduled next month.

Will Oregon wolves survive?


This video from the USA is called OR7 – THE JOURNEY Movie trailer.

From Sierra magazine in the USA:

Underdog

Celebrity wolf OR7 may be “too famous to kill,” but his pups will need to watch out if they wander into the wrong state

By Peter Frick-Wright

I’m heading home to Portland from a cabin in the central Oregon woods, down a road I’ve traveled a thousand times before, when something new comes loping through the forest. It’s moving fast without rushing. My brain registers graceful first. Then coyote. But no, it’s too tall and slender.

Then it hits me: Wolf!

It’s already gone.

I grew up in these woods. I like to think I know them. Black bears and mountain lions live out here, plus bobcats, beavers, and the occasional fox. At night you can hear great packs of yipping coyotes coalescing for a hunt.

But there aren’t any wolves.

Except, I remember a heartbeat later, that’s not completely true: A lone male wolf came through here a few years ago. It was a big deal—America’s most famous wild canid. And he had a funky name, like a robot: OR7.

He was Oregon’s seventh wolf to be caught and fitted with a radio collar—hence the name. He was from the Imnaha Pack, which roamed the northeastern corner of Oregon. But sometime in September 2011 he left the pack and wandered southwest, crossing four mountain ranges and five national forests, all the way down into California. He got halfway to Sacramento before circling back to southern Oregon.

Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife released information on his general whereabouts, and for a while everyone went wolf-crazy. Someone started a parody Twitter account for @WolfOR7. (“Attn. Oregon backpackers. You can keep your trail mix but I wouldn’t mind some of your beef jerky.”) We were all enamored with his 3,000-mile against-all-odds search for a fresh start and a mate.

It was a remarkable PR coup for a species long regarded as a pest, or worse. Humans, after all, have been demonizing wolves ever since we started filling our pastures with delicious, defenseless livestock. In his book Where the Wild Things Were, William Stolzenberg writes that the first systematic attacks on wolves took place alongside the birth of farming in the Nile River Delta, 10,000 years ago. Agriculturalists in this country share the antipathy. In 1843, the first semblance of Oregon’s state government was voted into existence at “wolf meetings” meant to address the problem of lost livestock. Not long after, the whole country embarked on an extermination campaign in which wolves were trapped, shot, poisoned, disemboweled, and lit on fire. Once airplanes were invented, they were put to work dropping cyanide-laced pellets of fat from the sky. In Alaska, wolves are still shot from planes.

A few cagey survivors grew legendary in their refusal to be caught, though traps sometimes claimed parts of a paw: A wolf named Three Toes terrorized Harding County, South Dakota. New Mexico had Old Three Toes. Old One Toe roamed Arizona. None had Twitter accounts.

Eventually, however, the West was won. Oregon’s last wolf was killed in 1947 for a $25 bounty, and ranchers slept easily at night. Devastated by population reduction, wolves became different beasts—underdogs.

In 1995, the tide began to turn. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service introduced 66 wolves from Canada back into Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas in Montana and Idaho. By 1999, wolves were starting to turn up in Oregon. Ten years later, the Imnaha Pack had taken up permanent residence just west of the Hells Canyon Wilderness on the border with Idaho. OR7, who had been tagged and radio-collared eight months earlier, dispersed in search of new territory in 2011. As he wandered, wolf supporters played up his celebrity status in a concerted effort to make him, as the Huffington Post put it, “too famous to kill.”

Now, here in central Oregon, as I scan the trees for another glimpse of the gray wolf that just crossed my path, it strikes me that this must be a new disperser, following in OR7’s path.

Three weeks later, just outside Joseph, Oregon (population 1,052), I’m halfway up Finley Butte and creeping toward the summit. It’s a little past 4 a.m., and the sunrise just cracked open the skyline behind me, staining the Wallowa Mountains a radical violet and rousing a chorus of birds.

“If we want to get wildlife shots, we need to get in close without the birds announcing our presence,” whispers Michelle Van Naerrsen of the Wolf OR7 Expedition, a monthlong, six-person trek retracing by foot and mountain bike part of the canid’s 3,000-mile odyssey. If the birds go suddenly quiet, she says, that tells the whole valley to be afraid.

This morning is day one of the expedition, the official mandate of which is to “explore the challenges of a 21st century wolf.” We’re setting off in the crisp predawn to check out OR7’s original home range. If we’re stealthy, we might catch a glimpse of the herds of elk he hunted as a pup. The group is filming a documentary, though, not to mention blogging and Facebooking the whole trip, and our cameras keep blowing our cover. As expedition video­grapher Daniel Byers lines up a shot of the glowing horizon, for example, Galeo Saintz takes a picture of him with his phone. I take a picture of Saintz taking that picture. We’re here to see elk, but we’re also here to be seen trying to see elk. We’re tweeting, but now we’ve scared the birds—and they’re not.

That’s OK, I’m told. The goal isn’t finding OR7 so much as following in his footsteps, and (hopefully) inspiring a new appreciation for the creature’s wild savvy.

“There are two landscapes that we’re walking through, the physical landscape and the psychological landscape,” says Rachael Pecore-Valdez, an aquatic ecologist and story­teller who is the trip’s instigator. “I’m interested in a story that is true to both.”

Problem is, wolves are often not appreciated in either landscape. European folklore reads like a class action suit against the species: Little Red Riding Hood, Three Little Pigs, et al. v. Big Bad Wolf. For some other cultures, though, wolves are allies.

“There would be certain howls,” Joe Whittle explains to the Wolf OR7 Expedition cameras later that day. “Because of those howls, hunters would find deer or elk to hunt.”

Born in the nearby town of Enterprise and a member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma, Whittle is a back­country guide, U.S. Forest Service wilderness ranger, and student of Native American cultures. We’re in a meadow up Hurricane Creek, where the Wallowas’ tallest peak, Mt. Sacajawea, towers overhead. Whittle is describing the mutually beneficial relationship that developed between wolves and the Nez Perce tribe, as described to him by tribal elder Horace Axtell. Nez Perce hunters, he says, would kill an animal and leave a gut pile. “It didn’t take long for the wolves to realize that they could get an easy, free meal just by vocalizing where the game are. They just do a little howling and here they have an easy snack.”

It’s not just indigenous humans who benefit from the presence of wolves. Apex predators have been shown to have an outsize influence on ecosystem health, Oregon State University professor Bill Ripple tells me later. He’s best known for his work in Yellowstone showing how aspen trees thrive when wolves keep elk at bay—limiting herbivore populations as well as influencing their behavior. Moose and elk move quickly and browse more gingerly in wolf territory; the divided attention allows some aspen shoots to establish themselves.

Last year Ripple also found that wolves keep grazers from hogging all the wild berries. His team analyzed scat samples of Yellowstone grizzlies and found that the presence of wolves increased the amount of available berries.

So that means that OR7 might bring real, tangible benefits to wherever he settles, right?

Not so fast, Ripple says. Large species generally need large swaths of habitat, and humans keep carving the country into smaller and smaller pieces. It’s entirely possible that through agriculture, logging, and road building, we’ve negated any benefits that wolves could bring to the landscape. These big bad wolves may come home only to find that we long ago blew down their houses.

That is, if we let them come home at all. In the current wolf-reintroduction scheme, when recovering wolf populations hit preestablished benchmarks, they lose their endangered species protection and the states can step in to manage wolves as they see fit.

In 2008, when Idaho’s wolves were first delisted, the state sold wolf-hunting tags, and it has essentially hunted the population in and out of federal protection ever since. Montana opened a wolf season in 2011 to reduce the population by 25 percent. It came up short, so the hunting season was extended. In 2012, Wyoming classified wolves as predators that could be shot on sight. In September 2014, following a lawsuit by the Sierra Club and others, a federal judge revoked the state’s management rights and returned federal protections.

That reprieve may be temporary. In 2013, citing healthy populations in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes regions, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed delisting wolves across the entire country, essentially handing all wolf management decisions to the individual states. Washington, Oregon, and California have comprehensive, science-based management plans in place or in the works for the day wolves are delisted. But should those wolves wander across state lines to, say, Nevada, it would be like entering enemy territory.

The next day, hiking toward the Imnaha River, a cold, steady rain turns to glops of slush and then snow. When my boots finally soak through, I send the expedition on its way and start driving around Wallowa County, knocking on ranch house doors. What’s it like, I wonder, to live in a place one notch wilder than it used to be?

There’s a grassy ridgeline out here called the Wolf Highway, which I figure is a good place to start. It runs between the Eagle Cap Wilderness, where elk spend their summers, and the Zumwalt Prairie, where they winter. Wolves follow the herds, but fenced-in cattle dot their path, like fast food on the interstate.

When I arrive at Lori Schaafsma’s door, she invites me in, puts the kettle on for tea, calls her neighbor, Ramona Phillips, and informs me that they both have much to say on the subject of wolves. She’s not kidding.

“When we first had wolves come here, I don’t think I had any prejudice at all,” Phillips says. “[But] it’s changed our life in every way.” Both women say they’re frustrated that they’re not allowed to protect their property; Schaafsma compares her situation to living in gang territory, where it feels like violence might erupt at any moment.

Between their two herds, however, the state has confirmed exactly one case of wolf depredation. Nationwide, wolves are responsible for less than 1 percent of lost livestock. That means zilch, though, to the individual ranchers losing cattle. The gulf between the actual numbers and the perceived threat makes managing wolves also a matter of managing people, for whom encountering a wolf on their property inspires less reverence than it does a feeling of acute vulnerability. “I don’t think people understand how close to our houses they are,” Phillips says. “It skews how we look at them. It has to.”

In Portland, where wolves aren’t devouring property or pets—­not even the occasional little hipster dog—­perspectives can skew the other way. On a rainy Sunday, Clemens Schenks’s documentary OR7—the Journey (not to be confused with the Wolf OR7 Expedition film) is premiering at a brewpub movie house. “Sold out!” a woman laments, as she turns from the ticket counter. It’s not a happy scene.

The timing of the premiere could not be better. The batteries in OR7’s radio collar are expected to die at any moment, but days earlier a trail camera captured him in close proximity to a small black female wolf—perhaps a mate.

The film is short on nuance and subtlety, but the pro-wolf audience doesn’t care. As it gathers steam, scattered applause turns to full-on cheers for definitive statements about the benefits of wolf reintroduction and anti-hunting policies.

“I think it says something about everyone’s fear of what’s happening to us,” an audience member tells me. “OR7 is a reason to celebrate at a time when we’re nervous about our future.” In other words, if a decimated species can find enough connected habitat to fill in the spaces we emptied of them, perhaps we’ve done something right.

Four years after leaving his pack, OR7 is still top dog in the wolf media world. Every few months someone pays tribute with a new song or an epic poem or an hourlong dance performance, and whoever’s behind the OR7 Twitter account is still going strong. Last June, U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents tromped into the woods and confirmed that OR7 had indeed found a mate and that the happy couple had at least three pups in a den not far from the California border. Adorable photos soon followed.

If the pups make it through the winter, OR7 and his mate will be considered a “breeding pair.” It takes four such pairs to constitute a minimum sustainable population, according to the state’s management plan. But beyond five pairs, wolves—even famous ones—begin to lose protections.

Under ideal circumstances, wolves can double their numbers every two years, but that’s assuming adequate territory, food supply, and genetic diversity. Much of that is still a question mark. It remains to be seen just how badly we’ve chopped up the landscape and whether or not packs in surrounding states can spin off enough wandering wolves to find each other, like OR7 and his mate. So while their union feels like a huge victory for Canis lupus, it’s a tenuous one. Given the history of famous wolves in our country and culture, you might better call it a toehold.

This article was funded by the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign.