OR-7 now a media sensation

Wolf back in Jackson County, with his quest described by some as a 'search for love'

Wandering wolf OR-7 has meandered back into Jackson County, and his history-making travels from northeast Oregon have gone viral.

The 2-year-old male wolf's satellite-transmitting collar showed early Friday he was in the far upper Middle Fork of the Rogue River drainage just west of the Klamath County line, says Mark Vargas, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Rogue District wildlife biologist.

OR-7 is the first confirmed wolf west of the Cascades in 65 years. He had been hanging around the timberland-agricultural interface of western Klamath County the past two weeks, and media outlets across the globe have portrayed his quest to find a new home as a "search for love."

Michelle Dennehy, the ODFW's Wildlife Division spokeswoman, says she has fielded calls for updates and photographs of OR-7 from media outlets in South America and Europe this week as more of the world latches on to this Jack London-esque quest.

But whether OR-7 is looking for love or is bringing a she-wolf with him is unknown.

While OR-7 is the first wolf confirmed to have crossed the Cascades into Western Oregon since 1946, biologists say it is unknown whether others have stealthily done so before him, Dennehy says.

And despite being monitored like a parolee wearing an electronic tracking bracelet, OR-7 isn't tipping his paw as to his relationship status.

"We've tried to observe OR-7, but we haven't been able to, so we don't know if he's alone or not," Dennehy says.

The agency does not release waypoints of the wolf's whereabouts because the animal is protected as endangered under state and federal laws. But agency biologists have used those waypoints to map the wolf's more than 300-mile journey from the Imnaha Mountains east of Enterprise to Jackson County.

Since OR-7's trek began Sept. 10, people have reported wolf sightings in the Cascades, but biologists have not been able to match any of the sightings with OR-7's GPS data, Dennehy says.

It is possible that people have spotted the now-famous wolf or spied different wolves in the Cascades, but neither scenario can be verified at this time, she says.

No photos of OR-7 are known to exist.

ODFW biologists encourage people to report wolf sightings online at www.dfw.state.or.us/Wolves/wolf_reporting_form.asp and to send in any photos or trail-camera footage of suspected wolves.

A hunter who turned in trail-camera footage in October helped lead to the confirmation of a wolf pack in the Snake River Wildlife Management Unit, the fourth such confirmed pack in the state, Dennehy says.

Biologists say they have no way to predict when and where the wolf will settle after this dispersal from its original pack.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.


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