The wolf OR-7 became globally famous when he took off from his Northeast Oregon pack four years ago and wandered thousands of miles in search of a mate, his movement tracked by a GPS satellite.
His actions now be much harder to track.
Wildlife officials say the collar that transmitted his location through satellites and radio signals has stopped working. “It all finally wore out,” said John Stephenson, Oregon wolf coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bend. “The battery died, basically.”
Without the regular information, biologists rely on trail cameras and in-person sightings to monitor him,
Knowing the electronics were close to blinking out, state and federal wildlife managers made three attempts — last summer, last fall and early this spring — to trap OR-7 or another member of his Rogue Pack, said Mark Vargas, district wildlife biologist for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife in Medford.
The hope was to replace the batteries and keep the GPS data coming in and the radio signal going from OR-7 or track the pack by collaring another one of the wolves. “We’d love to get a collar back on OR-7,” Vargas said, “but that didn’t happen.”
People around the world tracked OR-7 when he set off from the Imnaha Pack four years ago, wandering thousands of miles through Oregon, into Northern California and back. He found a mate, settled in the Cascade Range in Southern Oregon and has had five pups. None of the wolves in the pack has a working tracking collar.
Although not able to track and locate OR-7 like before, Stephenson and Vargas know where he and his pack roam. For the past three years, the wolf and his mate have hunted and raised pups around the Sky Lakes Wilderness Area between Prospect and Fort Klamath.
Now 6 years old, OR-7 left his pack when he was 2. His three older pups, born last year, are full-size yearlings and may set out on their own soon. “(It) wouldn’t be surprising if one of them took off this fall,” Stephenson said.