Natural history museum to celebrate North America’s wolves

A wolf in the wild

Aug. 11 is shaping up to be a “wild” night at the UO’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

In celebration of its new exhibit, “Wolves and Wild Lands in the 21st Century,” the museum will open its doors for a preview followed by craft beer sampling and an outdoor movie starring OR-7, Oregon’s famous wandering wolf. Admission to the event is free.

The exhibit, organized by the International Wolf Center and the Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota, explores North America’s wolves and the role humans play in their conservation. Through photographs, maps and lifelike wolf mounts, visitors can learn about the challenges to successful wolf-human coexistence — including habitat destruction, livestock predation, and the hunting and trapping of wolves.

In addition to the traveling exhibit, artifacts and specimens from the museum’s own collections highlight Oregon’s wolf story, including the latest on the state’s wolf reintroduction plan, OR-7’s highly publicized journey and ancient feces from Paisley Caves that contain DNA from members of the dog family. At a hands-on station, visitors can listen to wolf howls, touch a wolf pelt and examine a replica skull.

“People restored wolves to many areas of the Lower 48 states, but it is not a foregone conclusion that they will still be here 20, 50 or 100 years from now,” said Jess Edberg of the International Wolf Center. “This exhibit explores the challenges we must face if wolves are to survive over the long term.”

Exhibit viewing will begin at 7 p.m. Then, at sunset on the museum’s south lawn, visitors can take in a free screening of “The Wolf OR-7 Expedition,” an official selection of the 2016 International Wildlife Film Festival. The film retraces the route taken by the GPS-collared wolf, interviews people along the way who suddenly find themselves in wolf country, and examines a number of issues surrounding human-wolf coexistence.

Along with the movie, visitors can enjoy free popcorn and beer tastings from Claim 52 Brewing. Red Five Hotdog Co. will offer food and beverages for purchase. Picnicking is also encouraged.

“The exhibit and opening event are designed to encourage dialogue about wolf conservation in Oregon,” said Ann Craig, the museum’s exhibitions director. “Given the ongoing controversy surrounding coexistence and the key roles wolves play in healthy ecosystems, there is much to consider and discuss.”

—By Kristin Strommer, Museum of Natural and Cultural History