No female wolves in California, so OR7 returns to Oregon

The young male gray wolf that crossed into California more than a year ago on his mating walkabout retreated back over the Oregon state line late on Tuesday. He has walked more than 3,000 miles since leaving his pack in the Oregon wilds in 2011. He was the first wild-roaming wolf in California since 1924, so there was no chance he would find a mate. But OR7 kept patrolling the northern counties — he was spotted and photographed once while in California, in May in Modoc County. He retreated back into Oregon at least once before, last March. Officials in both states said he may keep wandering across the border in his quest, but his luck should be better on the other side: Oregon has an estimated 53 wild wolves.

WhIle OR7 was in California, things changed in his old pack. Populated with as many as 16 wolves after OR7 was born, the so-called Imnaha pack may now have as few as five animals, say Oregon wildlife officials. "Several members died in 2011, and four radio-collared wolves (including OR7) have dispersed from the pack since December 2010. Additionally, the locations and fates of five uncollared pack members are currently unknown." Oregon officials also hope to shoot the pack's alpha male.

During winter and spring, the Imnaha pack tends to occupy lower-elevation areas consisting of a mix of private and public lands. In summer and fall, the wolves spend most of their time on public lands at higher elevations. The pack has been documented to kill livestock and two of its members were killed by ODFW in May 2011 in an effort to deter further depredation events. In September, ODFW decided to kill two additional wolves from the pack, including the alpha male. However, that action has not yet been implemented due to a court-ordered temporary stay. As an Imnaha pack member, it is likely that at some point OR7 has been involved in livestock depredation in northeastern Oregon. However, since OR7 was collared in February 2011, it has not been documented to have taken part in any depredation events.

Also on the fauna front: A young elephant seal was spotted Monday afternoon where they rarely go — inside King Harbor at Redondo Beach.

File photo from May sighting of OR7 in Modoc County

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