This week the saga continued of the 2-year-old male gray wolf who wondered across the state line from Oregon into California, on December 28 (last Wednesday), ostensibly looking for a girlfriend—the first canis lupus to show up in our state since 1924. The hopeful wolf was unglamorously named OR7, by Oregon Fish and Wildlife biologists who trapped and GPS collared him last February (The better to keep track of you, my dear). This week he was nicknamed Journey as the result of a naming contest held by an Oregon conservation group, Oregon Wild, which feels that the more the creature is personalized the less likely he is to get shot.
OR 7/Journey’s growing fame was heightened on Wednesday of this week, when a possible photo of him of taken by an unmanned deer hunter’s trail camera back in Oregon surfaced, giving us a first view of our new wolf.
Unlike wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, wolves that return to California are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Nevertheless, ranchers are reportedly already grumbling unhappily at the thought of wolves returning.
As of Wednesday, Mr. wolf was “staying out of trouble in a forested section of the Cascade Range in Northern California and appeared to be heading south,” Mark Stopher of the California Department of Fish and Game told the AP
“From Google Earth, it looks like it is habitat he can find both cover and food in,” Stopher said. “A lot of people would like to see OR-7 become an Oregon wolf again. To me, it’s a coin toss now what he is going to do.”
Evidently wolves usually mate in February (ish) but, according to OR-7′s
stalker watchful biologist friends, he has yet to hook up. (Mainly because there are no other California wolves, a fact that no one seems to have mentioned to poor OR7/Journey)
The AP also reports:
OR-7 left the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon last September, shortly before the state put a death warrant on his father and a sibling for killing cattle. He is a descendant of wolves introduced into the Northern Rockies in the 1990s, and represents the westernmost expansion of a regional population that now tops 1,650.
Naturally, we will be keeping you up to date on the next installment of OR7/Journey’s journey.
(And, yes, the purposely fuzzy photo of the So Cal wolf taken in the Topanga hills is actually my couch-loving wolf-dog Lily.)