By Jay Simpson
National Geographic Young Explorer Jay Simpson is part of the Wolf OR-7 Expedition, a 1,200-mile adventure in the tracks of a wolf. Using an estimated GPS track of the lone Wolf OR-7, the team mountain-biked and hiked across Oregon and Northern California. Their aim is to raise awareness of local strategies that make on-the-ground strides toward human and wolf coexistence in the region. Follow the full story at or7expedition.org or Facebook.com/or7expedition.
Before watching this video, take a moment to think about Wolf OR-7′s 2011 route across Oregon and Northern California. In your mind, what do you see? Do you think of a map, maybe with lines or data on it?
For most people following the story of Wolf OR-7 around the world, maps like the one pictured left are the only visualizations of what the land Wolf OR-7 encountered is like. The maps likely include depictions of state and county borders, major city names, highways, or rivers. In their attempt to display the land crossed by this wandering wolf, I’ve found that they’ve completely lost the landscape and true nature of OR-7′s journey.
Wolf OR-7 crossed mountains, forests, rivers, highways, cattle guards, lava fields, grasslands, farms, small towns, dusty forestry roads, hiking trails, and open shrub deserts. And during the months he spent looking for a mate and new habitat, he was able to remain largely undetected (other than the GPS transmitter around his neck) and fed. His survival was possible because of remaining areas of wilderness and suitable wolf habitat, and it was even more dependent on existing, healthy connections between these habitats.
By documenting the approximate route of Wolf OR-7′s dispersal, we hope to reach a better understanding of the challenges faced by wildlife moving across Oregon and Northern California and to visualize the connections between various suitable habitats and wilderness areas.
Time Lapse of 1,200 miles in the Tracks of a Wolf was created by National Geographic Young Explorer Grantee Jay Simpson, who photographed the Expedition Team’s forward direction throughout each day. Of over 4,000 images he collected, just over 700 images were used to create this time lapse. Video.