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Wolves likely unhindered by wildfires

How is OR-7 doing since the Oregon Gulch fire is in his backyard? I hope that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife can report that he and his family are OK.

— Rita H., Medford

We at Since You Asked Central — and the honchos at the local ODFW office in White City — have received plenty of inquiries about whether OR-7 and his young pups are in danger from local wildfires and firefighting suppression efforts.

And the answer we've gotten so far is that Southern Oregon's first family of wolves since the Great Depression should have little trouble skirting the flames and smoke.

"I don't have any concerns at this time about these fires," says Mark Vargas, ODFW's Rogue District wildlife biologist, who is helping track OR-7 and his little pack in southeast Jackson and western Klamath counties.

The Oregon Gulch fire is burning several miles south of where OR-7, his mate and at least three pups have been spending the summer, Vargas says.

Also, the wolves are not residing in a den now. Instead, they have regularly changing "rendezvous zones," where the adults leave the pups daily while they hunt for food. Those zones can change daily.

"OR-7 is extremely mobile, and the pups at this time are extremely mobile," Vargas says. "These animals are survivors."

Big-game animals such as deer, elk, bear, cougar — and now wolves — generally don't have much trouble averting wildfires, Vargas says. They tend to get out of harm's way. On occasion firefighters will report a deer or elk carcass consumed by fire, but it is usually unknown whether that animal was already sick or injured, he says.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.