Earth Month, Day 14: Peeing Wolves and Scientific Bling

On today's installment of Earth Month, we bring you the ongoing tale of a wolf named OR7 (lonely no more!) and a bracelet that's helping scientists understand pollution: Cally CarswellFirst, from Cally Carswell with High Country News, a look at OR7's new friend:

Against All Odds, Wolf OR7 May Have Found a Mate

OR7's lady-friend. Photo courtesy USFWS / Oregon Department of Wildlife.

On May 3, a wolf slipped through the frame of a remote camera in southwestern Oregon, a blur of black and brown. The next day, under the cover of darkness, it stared directly at a camera, eyes aglow, and did something ordinary that, under the circumstances, was an extraordinary sight: It squatted and peed. This was a she-wolf.

Her gender had big implications because a famous he-wolf, known as OR7, was right nearby. OR7 rocketed to celebrity in 2011, when he was two years old. He ditched his pack in northeastern Oregon that year and went where no wolf had gone for decades. He traveled south through Oregon, crossing I-84 and four U.S. highways, and became the first wolf known to have been west of the Cascades since 1947. Then, he slipped over the border into California, giving his species a presence in that state for the first time in almost a century... Read more.

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BrianBienkowskiAnd, from Brian Bienkowski with Environmental Health News, the scoop on some new scientific jewelry:

Armed with Arm Candy: Bracelets Can Detect People's Chemical Exposures

Wristbands are the accessory of choice for people promoting a cause. And the next wave of wrist wear might act as a fashionable archive of your chemical exposure.

Researchers at Oregon State University outfitted volunteers with slightly modified silicone bracelets and then tested them for 1,200 substances. They detected several dozen compounds – everything from caffeine and cigarette smoke to flame retardants and pesticides.

“We were surprised at the breadth of chemicals,” said Kim Anderson, a professor and chemist who was senior author of the study published in Environmental Science & Technology.

Beginning with Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong, the cheap, colorful, rubbery wristbands have been a popular fad over the past decade in promoting charities and other affiliations.

Anderson initially tried to use silicone pendants attached to necklaces to test for contaminants. But then, at a football game she saw “all kinds of people, even burly men” sporting wristbands. That’s when the idea hit her.

Silicone is porous and acts similar to human cells, so once chemicals are absorbed by the wristband, “they don’t want to go back to the water or the air,” Anderson said... Read more. 

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