Saturday, October 17, 2015

Thought dead, wolf OR-3 found in Cascades

Brother of OR-7 was last tracked in 2011 near Prineville

By Dylan J. Darling / The Bulletin

About four years since he was last tracked in Central Oregon, a lone gray wolf — brother of famous OR-7 — has re-emerged in the Cascades.

A private trail camera snapped a photo of OR-3 this summer in the Cascades of northern Klamath County, according to an email Friday from Michelle Dennehy, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman.

The camera belonged to a hunter and was placed near Crater Lake National Park, according to the Statesmen Journal in Salem.

Last week, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed the photo was OR-3, and Sneak Cat, a blog about wildlife, first reported the news Thursday.

Captured and collared by state wolf researchers in February 2010, OR-3 was last located in September 2011 in the Ochocos near Prineville. Scientists figured he might have died after not tracking him since.

Like OR-7, who earned fame by wandering thousands of miles through Oregon and Northern California, OR-3 was originally from the Imnaha Pack in northeast Oregon. He dispersed — or set out alone, possibly in search of a mate — in May 2011. Four months later, in September 2011, OR-7 dispersed. That fall, scientists estimated OR-3 was 3 years old and OR-7 was 2 years old, making the brothers 7 and 6 now.

While OR-7 wears a GPS collar that can be tracked by satellite, OR-3 has a VHF radio collar, according to Dennehy’s email. “Unlike GPS collars, which automatically provide locations to a computer, VHF collars require wildlife biologists to locate the collar with special telemetry equipment in the field,” she wrote.

Researchers believe OR-3’s collar is no longer sending a signal, with the battery likely out of power.
During his long walk, OR-7 passed through parts of Crook and Deschutes counties in 2011 before becoming the first wolf in nearly 90 years in California. He returned to Oregon in 2013 and now has a mate. This year he fathered his second litter of pups in the Rogue Pack, his family, which roams a territory in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. While OR-7 has apparently given up wandering and settled in the Southern Oregon Cascades, what OR-3 is doing is a mystery.

“Little is known about the current status of (OR-3), but wildlife biologists will attempt to gather more information,” Dennehy wrote in her email.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.