Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
His tracking collar went dead in 2015, but OR-7, the wandering wolf, is alive and well. This spring, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service trail camera caught him trotting along with what a wildlife biologist said is an elk leg in his mouth.
Federal wildlife biologist John Stephenson said OR-7 was taking food back to his den. For the fourth consecutive year, OR-7 appears to be denned up with the same unidentified female who joined him in the Southwest Oregon Cascades in 2014.
The Rogue Pack, of which he’s the alpha male, numbered six over the winter. This spring, Stephenson saw tracks in the snow of at least five wolves. OR-7 has shown up in trail camera photos several times this spring, most recently on May 18.
“He looks good,” Stephenson said.
OR-7 is now 8 years old, which is somewhat old for a wolf in the wild, Stephenson said. It became Oregon’s best known wolf when it dispersed from the Imnaha Pack in Northeast Oregon in 2011 and cut a diagonal across the state and into California. Because he was wearing a tracking collar, wildlife agencies and the public could follow his travels, and for better or worse he came to symbolize the return of wolves to Oregon’s landscape,
OR-7 was the first documented wolf in California since 1924, but eventually returned to Oregon and established what ODFW named the Rogue Pack in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. He and his mate have produced several litters of pups over the years.
His mate has never been caught or collared and is something of a mystery. Analysis of her scat, however, showed she is related to wolves from Northeast Oregon or Idaho.
Stephenson said he hopes to fit a new tracking collar on OR-7, his mate or one of the other adults in the pack.