Wandering wolf OR-7 moves within 10 miles of Oregon

But California Fish and Game officials aren't giving up on OR-7 remaining in the sunshine state while he searches for a mate

OR-7 inched his way closer to Oregon on Wednesday but this dispersing gray wolf is still the only confirmed wolf in California since 1924 — for now.

The California Department of Fish and Game reported the nearly 3-year-old wolf remains in northeastern Siskiyou County after moving a few miles north since Tuesday, when a satellite reading of his GPS collar showed him less than 10 miles from the Oregon border.

Though OR-7 is just howling distance from his home state, DFG spokesman Mark Stopher wasn't willing Wednesday to cede OR-7's residency away as the animal searches for a mate.

"There's no telling what direction he'll go next," Stopher said Wednesday.

OR-7 had been hanging out for about a month in eastern Lassen County in Northern California near the Nevada border before retracing the route he took when he left Oregon after more than a month of zig-zagging across Southern Oregon's Cascade crest.

"Over time, he's exhibited these patterns where he'll stay in place for a time then go on a dispersal," Stopher said.

The idea that OR-7's nearly three months in California have been merely a vacation of sorts from Oregon "puts human motives to him," Stopher said. "He's made U-turns before."

Since he became the first of Oregon's wolves to leave northeastern Oregon, striking out in a southwesterly path in September, OR-7's journey has covered more than 1,000 miles as the lone lobo disperses from the Imnaha pack in search of suitable habitat and a mate.

All the while, his historic journey made him the first confirmed wolf in Western Oregon in 65 years, and his trek has captured the imaginations of readers and viewers on five continents since his tale went viral in early December.

He was captured in February 2011 and fitted with a collar that emits regular GPS pings to satellites and transmit signals on a dedicated VHF frequency by day — the GPS so it can be tracked at the office and the VHF to be dialed in on the ground.

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

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