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CollaredJohn E. Riutta reviewed Collared on The Well Read Naturalist book review this week. In his summary of the book, Riutta wrote:

Collared is not only about wolves but people as well; people with astonishingly different views of the world in which they live, who are honestly trying to work together for their own as well as the common good of their families, towns, and the larger society, to establish a set of rules under which they all – and the wolves as well – can live together with a minimal amount of disruption to their respective ways of life.
To see the full review, and to find recommendations for other books within the genre, please check out, The Well-Read Naturalist.
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A lone female wolf in the Wallowa National Forest area.

A lone female wolf in the Wallowa National Forest area.

I’ll be giving the next talk for the Straub Environmental Center lecture series in Salem on Nov. 19 at 7p.m. The talk will focus on the past and future of wolf management in Oregon. The Statesman Journal did a small write-up previewing the talk. Check it out here: Howling at the Moon. Hope to see you at the lecture.

Collared at Powell’s on Hawthorne, Portland, Oregon, Oct. 7, 2013.

Powell'sReading

Collared at Grass Roots Bookstore in Corvallis, Oregon, Oct. 8, 2013.

GrassRootsReading

CollaredCollared: Politics and Personalities in Oregon’s Wolf Country will be on shelves Oct. 1, and OSU Press has set up several events, including readings and signings to celebrate publication.

To start I’ll be at Powell’s Books on Hawthorne on Oct. 7 at 7:30 pm discussing the book and signing copies for the store. On Oct. 8, I’ll be reading from Collared at Grass Roots Books in Corvallis, Oregon. Then on Oct. 9, I’ll be taking part in an informal discussion of the book and topic during a brown bag lunch at the Valley Library on the Oregon State University campus. I’ll also be participating in a signing during the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association conference next week.

It would be wonderful to see you out there.

Top: Pups from the Wenaha pack peer out from the den.
Above: A yearling female wolf from the Wenaha pack in northeastern Oregon. As of August 2012, there were a minimum of 9 wolves confirmed in the pack. All images are mine; please do not use without direct permission.

I’ve spent the last several months writing about the politics of wolves in Oregon, and to some degree the West. If everything proceeds as planned my book, Collared: Politics and Personalities in Oregon’s Wolf Country, will be published by OSU Press in Fall 2013. On the new “Collared: Wolves in Oregon” page on this site, I’ll share bits of that story, wolf-related news and my ongoing research.

… For the last eight-months since observing possible wolf sign during elk hunting season, the Oregon Department of Fish Wildlife state wolf coordination, Russ Morgan, has regularly driven deep into this forested area in northern Union County, cupped his hands to his mouth and let out long, loud, AAWWOOOOoooos.

The howls are part of bona fide scientific survey technique used by wildlife managers to identify the presence of wolves in areas too large to visually survey. Territorial wolf packs and individual wolves will often respond, and move toward, the human howlers, across distances of several miles. However, it’s not a perfect tool. Wolves have been known to ignore, or not respond, to the howls of humans and other wolves. In addition, when a response is elicited it provides only general information about whether or not a wolf, or wolves, are present. Deducing more specific information about exact numbers in the population, sex, and age can be a stretch.

Still a response is a response, and howling surveys are a practical, low cost option for trying to determine if wolves are in an area. That viability, and the potential for success no matter how slim is why Morgan’s voice is now hoarse enough to sand paint, and why he has spent the last two-days eating peanut butter sandwiches and sleeping in the dirt next to the truck. Staring blankly out the windshield, sweating, and swatting at bugs he plans for one more night.

Even at 15 mph Morgan can feel the vibration from the washboarded forest road in his kidneys. Dust from the dry fire road comes in through the vents in the truck’s dash coating the interior with the same fine brown film of particulates that covers the brush mallow and Douglas fir trees that border the road. Every ten minutes, Morgan stops, rolls down his window, and howls. He keeps it up for one hour, two hours, four. At about one a.m. he pulls the truck to the shoulder, switches off the engine, and being too tired to even pull out his sleeping bad, lets his head loll back. He sleeps for almost two hours propped in the driver seat. Waking at about three a.m. he decides it couldn’t hurt to howl into the darkness. When a responding howl comes immediately and from less than 25 yards away, he almost falls out of the open window.

Before the call tapers off it’s joined by another deeper howl, punctuated by higher pitched yips – the sound of pups.

– Excerpt from Collared: Politics and Personalities in Oregon’s Wolf Country, Chapter 3: Early Arrivals

An unnamed rural highway, Union County, Oregon

Last night lying cocooned in down, I fell asleep to the sounds of rain drumming across the fiberglass truck topper and gunshots. The rain quit a few hours later, but the shots rang through the night. Some times they sounded deep like the huge drum carried by the skinny kid in high school marching band, or like the cannon fire from a war long lost. Other times they were more like a POP! A tire blowing out at 60 miles an hour on the highway, a firecracker pulled as the sky darkens on the Fourth of July. They came in intervals; ringing one or two every few hours. At 11pm, midnight, 1:30, 1:46, 3 am. Then just before dawn, before the water had boiled for coffee, I heard the howls. Bouncing and echoing along forested hills and across valley pasture, they were less a chorus than a distortion of individual notes. Once again came gun fire.

These are not redneck kids playing with dangerous toys, not devil dogs running feral. Far from the state capitol, far from the lawmakers, the activists and lobbyists, the long nights have everyone tired, and all sides are suffering losses. They are hardworking men and women trying to maintain their livelihood. They are wild animals acting from instinct and experience.