John Stephenson cups his mouth and lets out a long, sorrowful howl. “Ow ow owwww!” his cries echo into the Rogue River–Siskiyou National Forest. “Owwww!”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official is performing a “howling survey” in search of the world’s most famous wolf, who goes by the diminutive name OR-7. It’s May, and Stephenson is standing beside a logging road, deep in the woods outside Prospect, Oregon, hoping for a response, which never comes. The lanky wildlife biologist has also positioned trail cameras in the bush, strapped to grand fir trees and triggered by animals as they pass. But as he scrolls through 1,400 images, he finds only bears, bobcats and deer. OR-7 and his pack must be somewhere on the other side of these mountains, in search of a meal.