Oregon’s best known wandering wolf, OR-7, was photographed by a remote trail camera in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in late February after not being heard from since his tracking collar failed last June.
The wolf’s dispersal from the Imnaha Pack in September 2011 attracted international attention as GPS collar data points shared by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife allowed the public to follow his travels.
After leaving Northeast Oregon’s Wallowa County, OR-7 cut through Oregon on a diagonal route, traveling southwest through Baker, Grant, Harney, Crook, Deschutes, Lake, Klamath, Douglas and Jackson counties. On Dec. 28, 2011, he entered California, becoming the first known wolf in the state since 1924. By then, wildlife biologists estimated he’d traveled 1,062 zig-zag miles.
He spent most of 2012 in California, then returned to Oregon in 2013. In 2014, ODFW announced he’d found a mate, an uncollared and unknown female. They’ve produced two litters of pups in what is now called the Rogue Pack.
OR-7 was most likely sired by OR-4, the longtime alpha male of the Imnaha Pack who was among four wolves shot by ODFW March 31 for repeated livestock attacks.
Unlike others from his home Imnaha Pack, OR-7 apparently hasn’t bothered cattle or sheep since taking up residence in Southwest Oregon.
“He’s behaving himself, I’m happy to report,” said John Stephenson, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who tracks wolves in the western part of the state, where the federal Endangered Species Act listing of gray wolves still is in effect.
Stephenson said the trail camera photo was the first direct evidence since last year that OR-7, now about 7-years-old, is alive and well.
He said OR-7 has produced two generations of pups, and said he saw tracks of six or perhaps seven wolves in the snow this past winter.
OR-7 still has a hold on people’s imagination. Stephenson said. He knows of three books being written about the wolf, two of them children’s books. At least one of the authors refers to the wolf as “Journey,” the name given him by conservation groups as they publicized his wanderings.