The first wolf confirmed in southwestern Oregon in 65 years remains in the high Cascades of eastern Douglas County but has inched a bit closer to Jackson County.
The 2-year-old collared male that late Thursday became the first confirmed wolf west of the Cascade crest doubled back across the divide into Klamath County on Monday. On Tuesday, it returned to Douglas County and moved a bit south from where it was this past weekend, authorities said.
The animal since has moved slightly farther south but is still in eastern Douglas County, said Michelle Dennehy, Wildlife Division spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The wolf, dubbed OR-07, has a collar that sends a satellite reading every six hours, but the pings only register when the collar has good satellite reception, Dennehy said. Dennehy said the agency will not divulge exact GPS readings because the wolf is a protected species.
The vast majority of eastern Douglas County is part of the Umpqua National Forest's Oregon Cascades Recreation Area, which is sparsely crisscrossed with old logging roads.
Born in Oregon in 2009 and collared last February, this wolf was part of the Imnaha pack in Wallowa County and split from that pack Sept. 10 in what biologists called dispersing, the wolf's version of leaving the nest.
So far, it has traveled more than 250 miles on its journey and there was no way to guess when or where this wolf will end up, biologists have said.
Once it crossed Highway 395 near Burns last week, it regained its status as an endangered species protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, Dennehy said. Wolves in portions of Eastern Oregon east of Highway 395 currently have an ESA exemption, she said.
The wolf, however, was still labeled and protected as an endangered species under state law statewide.
There is no hunting season anywhere in Oregon for wolves.
The last confirmed wolf in Western Oregon was one shot and killed for a bounty in 1946 in Douglas County.
Most dispersing wolves travel alone, and there was no indication one way or another that this one was joined by any other animals. But biologists have said there was a "high likelihood" other noncollared wolves have reached the Cascades, said Russ Morgan, the ODFW's wolf program coordinator.
Oregon has a minimum population of 23 confirmed wolves since the first wandered in from Idaho in 1999. There was no statewide population estimate for the wolves.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.