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Howls likely were coyotes

I live near the Payne Cliffs below Mount Baldy on the east side of Phoenix/Talent. At the end of last week I heard two howls from the side of the mountain and I had to consider whether coyotes howled or not. So I asked a couple of my friends, who weren't sure, but later one of them gave me this article (on wolf OR-7). We have plenty of coyotes around here, but I haven't heard that sound from them, so I was just checking in to see if you still have a bead on the wolf or if he might have traveled from the place he was last seen.

—Dawn S., by email

We at Since You Asked Central have been deluged with possible sightings of the famous lone wolf OR-7 in Jackson County over the past two months since the 2-year-old became the first wolf in 65 years to wander into Western Oregon.

Various people have reported seeing wolf-like animals around the Ginko Basin near Prospect, along the Butte Falls Highway and even some of the western Cascades foothills, Dawn. While we're not sure what people are seeing — after all, they could be other wolves that preceded OR-7 — but we do know it's not OR-7.

State and federal biologists continue to track OR-7 via a satellite-transmitter fixed to a collar fitted on the wolf in February when it was captured as part of the Imnaha pack east of Enterprise. And GPS settings confirm that the animal has not crossed into those areas where wolves were reported to be seen.

In fact, the animal has spent more time in Klamath County of late than in Jackson County.

As for those howls you heard that made you think of OR-7? Well, coyotes do howl, Dawn. These howls often start with a few yips and break into a maniacal crescendo as if they're laughing at us ... maybe for thinking they're a wolf.

Studies show that coyotes will howl to reform their pack after individual hunting and they will howl to warn other coyotes of their presence and that the territory is taken.

While you might mistake a coyote's howl for that of a wolf, you likely won't mistakenly identify it by sight.

Coyotes generally weight 30-35 pounds, while OR-7 weighed 90 pounds when collared and likely tips the scales now at more than 100 pounds.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501 or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com.