The Illustrated Journey of Oregon’s Famous Wolf OR-7

In 2012, a male gray wolf left his pack, crossed Oregon, and, upon entering neighboring California, became the first known wild wolf in the state since 1924. He’s called “OR-7,” as he was the seventh wolf tagged with a GPS location-tracking collar in Oregon.

Going Rogue

Since then, Wolf OR-7 has returned to Oregon, paired up with a female wolf, and fathered two pups. Known now as the Rogue Pack, officially designated due to their location within the Rogue River catchment area (but maybe Wolf OR-7 had a sense of foresight in where to den), the pack exemplifies the story of wolves in the 21st century returning to their historic rangelands.

Produced by Jay Simpson with artwork by Emma Munger. The Wolf OR-7 Story Map by the Wild Peace Alliance is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. (Content may not reflect National Geographic’s current map policy.)

Tracking a Lone Wolf

As part of our Wolf OR-7 Expedition, a 1,200-mile adventure that follows in Wolf OR-7’s tracks, my team and I mountain biked and hiked across Oregon and northern California to retrace the lone wolf’s general route.

Our expedition aims to share Wolf OR-7s story as wolves like the Rogue Pack redefine the borders of “modern wolf country.” And we’re experimenting with how we can use stories to reshape perceptions about wolves and educate ourselves about ways to coexist with these large carnivores.

The Wolf OR-7 Story Map is one of these experiments.

Simplified map of Wolf OR-7's route. Source: Wikipedia
Simplified map of Wolf OR-7’s route. (Image by Orygun, Finetooth; and Ruhrfisch; Creative Commons; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/legalcode. Content may not reflect National Geographic’s current map policy.)

A Map Tells the Tale

The first time I encountered a news article about Wolf OR-7, it included a simple map of Oregon that had an erratic, mysterious line crossing the state. These maps, like the one pictured at left, have become a way to relate to and understand the story of Wolf OR-7. Maps are also used by state and federal biologists to plot his estimated lines of travel and geo-located data points. But there are many aspects of Wolf OR-7’s story that these maps leave unsaid, so I decided to create a map that includes additional context to better depict the narrative landscape surrounding him.

Our story map focuses on commonly agreed upon facts that can be highlighted through the life of Wolf OR-7. Alongside the illustrated map, we’ve included details about Wolf OR-7’s life and relatives, the history of wolves in the U.S., basic wolf ecology, and more. Because of the limited space for accompanying text, there are many more details that we wished to include but could not. Visit our expedition blog post to read the details that were cut before the map’s final production.

Follow the full story at or7expedition.org or Facebook.com/or7expedition.

Wildlife

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National Geographic Young Explorer Jay Simpson is part of the Wolf OR-7 Expedition, a 1,200-mile adventure in the tracks of a lone wolf beginning May 2014. Using an estimated GPS track of the lone Wolf OR-7, they’ll have 42 days to mountain bike and hike across Oregon and Northern California. Their aim is to educate and share the story of a real wolf, dispelling myths and misinformation through educational products and presentations. Visit or7expedition.org or Facebook.com/or7expedition for more. Jay's previously walked over 400 miles in the mountains of South Africa, completing the first trek of the entire Rim of Africa Mountain Trail, to help educate South African youth on the Cape Floristic Region and conservation through the story of creating Africa’s first Mega-Trail. More at Rim of Africa Multimedia Trail Journal.