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Gray wolf OR-7 still howling but goes off the electronic grid!

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I first blogged about OR-7 (nickname “Journey”), the tagged gray wolf from Oregon that roamed Northern California, in January of 2012. In March of 2012, I blogged about his return to Oregon. Then, in August of 2015, I blogged:

The Lone Wolf apparently “got lucky!” OR-7 (named because he was the 7th wolf tagged with a tracking device in Oregon) first entered California in 2011, the first wolf to do so in almost 90 years, and he skirted the border for years. Last spring, a remote camera in Oregon’s Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest detected at least TWO puppies suspected to be offspring of OR-7.

The pack headed by OR-7 has been dubbed the “Rogue Pack.” In my August 2015 blog, I wrote about ANOTHER pack, called the “Shasta Pack,” which has since been shown by DNA testing to be genetically unrelated to OR-7.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife set up several remote trail cameras in southeastern Siskiyou County that captured images of adult wolves and pups that appear to be just a few months old!

In June, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to list the predator under the California Endangered Species Act, which went against the recommendation of state wildlife officials.

So… what’s up with OR-7 and his family, now in Oregon?

The last GPS signal from OR-7’s collar was received in February 2015, and the radio telemetry element in his collar died in May 2015. Although wildlife officials have repeatedly tried to put a new collar on him, all attempts so far have failed. As reported by SFGate.comJohn Stephenson, the Oregon wolf coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in Bend, Oregon says:

“We are still able to keep tabs on him. I got a photo of him in September,” said Stephenson, who, before the batteries went out, had been plotting the wolf patriarch’s location near the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, in southwestern Oregon, every six hours through the radio transmissions.

OR-7, so named because he was the seventh wolf radio-collared in Oregon, left the Imnaha Pack in Wallowa County, Ore., in 2011 and traveled an estimated 2,500 miles through dense forests, over mountains, past lakes and over grass, range and marshlands in search of food and a mate in California.

His zigzagging path — averaging about 15 miles a day — through Siskiyou, Lassen, Shasta, Modoc, Butte and Plumas counties was, by all accounts, a remarkable journey that provided researchers with valuable data on wolf behavior.

OR-7, now six years old, found a mate in Oregon near the Rogue River around the Sky Lakes Wilderness Area between Prospect and Fort Klamath. There are now at least SEVEN wolves in the pack, not including the two pups born this year.

And what about the unrelated Shasta Pack…? says:

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife documented a wolf pair in southeastern Siskiyou County in the spring and summer. Trail cameras confirmed this summer that the furry couple had given birth to five pups.

Karen Kovacs, the wildlife program manager for the department, said genetic testing of fur and scat has confirmed that the wolf parents were not OR-7’s offspring. She said they are also related to the Imnaha pack members and apparently found their way to California on their own.

“We don’t have collars on these animals at this point so it is based on what we could find out from our trail cameras,” Kovacs said. “We got images as recently as two weeks ago and the pups are now as big as the adults.”

Although there is currently no evidence that the Shasta Pack has preyed upon any livestock, Siskiyou County ranchers are concerned.

“Have private property owners who own livestock seen the wolves. Yes. Have they expressed concern, yes,” she said. “The department being the state wildlife agency is challenged with the attempts to conserve the species and address conflicts where they occur.”

It is an age-old problem. Ranchers and hunting groups in California claim wolves are “killing machines”that gut calves for fun. The hoopla surrounding OR-7 and the ongoing uncertainty of federal protection prompted the California Fish and Game Commission in 2014 to list wolves under the California Endangered Species Act.

In Oregon, however, there are now 80 wolves in 15 packs… so many that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife recommended on Thursday that wolves be taken off Oregon’s endangered species list.

“Wolves are definitely reoccupying Southern Oregon and Northern California,” Stephenson said. “It looks like they will continue to expand now that these wolves are here, and they are having pups.”

-Bill at

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