California's first wild wolf since the 1920s roamed east across U.S. highway 395 on the Madeline Plains north of Susanville in Lassen County sometime in the past ten days, then seemed to slow the "dispersal" quest that began last September in northern Oregon. At least, the latest map update by the California Department of Fish and Game shows the male gray wolf stopped covering so much daily terrain. He stayed near the highway and backtracked on his route, apparently for several days. "One possible interpretation of the satellite data is that he is remaining in this particular area because he is taking some time to eat something he has either killed or found," the DFG website explains.
As of today, though, the DFG site — which delays the visual map updates to protect the wolf from possible human predators — posted a text update that OR7 has begun covering ground again, this time back to the west into rugged mountains and away from the major highway link between Southern California and eastern Washington state.
Over the past 48 hours OR7 made a significant dispersal movement west. He is now in western Lassen County and back in habitat that looks to be more suitable for him.
This dispersal behavior is believed to be normal for males of OR7's age (he is about 2½.) They leave the pack looking for a mate and a new home. Officials believe OR7 is traveling alone and will not find a mate while he is still within California. He crossed into the state on Dec. 28 and has since traveled more than 200 miles. No one has publicly reported seeing the wolf, which wears a tracking collar, and the only photo was taken by a hunter's trail camera near Medford, Oregon in November.
Getting noticed: OR7's quest and the response to it in California is the lead story on the New York Times website right now.