Ore.—The Oregon-born wolf looking for a mate in the wilds of Northern
California has moved to lower ground as winter approaches.
California Department of Fish and Game program manager Karen Kovacs told The Oregonian (http://bit.ly/XA8mPt)
that winter storms lashing the high country south of Lassen Peak have
forced deer to lower elevations, and the wolf known as OR-7 has
His satellite-tracking collar has shown him in
oak-chaparral woodlands east of Red Bluff, Calif. Kovacs said this is
his first foray into that kind of habitat.
The wolf gained
celebrity after leaving its home ground in northeastern Oregon more than
a year ago and journeying hundreds of miles across eastern Oregon, down
the Cascade Range to Northern California in search of a mate. Shortly
after he left, the state put a death sentence on two members of his pack
for killing cattle, but that has been held up by a lawsuit brought by
He has managed to stay out of trouble and nearly out of sight. People have spotted him or his tracks only a few times.
Kovacs estimated that OR-7 weighs 100 to 110 pounds, with paws measuring 5-by-5 inches.
"He is feeding well, he is able to travel well," said Kovacs.
has the distinction of being the only known wolf in California in
nearly a century. When OR-7 crossed into California a year ago, Oregon
had counted 29 wolves within state boundaries. That
number has grown to 54 with a count of 25 new pups.
in California, OR-7 switched from his normal prey of elk to deer, which
are more available. He has not crossed major highways and has turned
back several times when he came close to Interstate 5. He swam across
the Klamath River several times, Kovacs said.
At 3 1/2 years,
the wolf is now past the midpoint of a lifetime that normally spans
five to seven years in the wild, and there have been no indications he
has found that elusive mate.
Nick Cady, legal director for
Cascadia Wildlands, an Oregon conservation group, said he was optimistic
OR-7 would meet a female that had also gone to California.
route OR-7 took is a natural backcountry migration corridor that
conservation groups were specifically trying to preserve when they were
fighting to add wilderness protections and stop clear-cutting, he said.
"It is promising to see that corridor functioning, and if it
functions for one wolf, that means it will function for more wolves," he
The batteries on his GPS collar are expected to run out in a little more than a year. After that, his fate may be unknown.