Oregon's wandering wolf now leader of a pack
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Oregon's famous wandering wolf is officially the leader of his own pack. He is known as OR-7.
State and federal wildlife agencies gave the wolf the designation. They call OR-7, his mate and their pups the Rogue Pack. The name comes from the wolves' location in the Rogue River drainage in the Cascades. That's east of Medford.
It's the first pack in western Oregon. And it's the ninth in the state since wolves from Idaho started swimming across the Snake River. The animals first swam it in the 1990s.
As a youngster, OR-7 left his pack in northeastern Oregon in September 2011. He traveled thousands of miles across Oregon. Then he traveled back and forth into Northern California. He finally found a mate last winter. That was in the southern Cascades, on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
The GPS collar that tracked his travels is still working. But biologists hope to replace it.
Efforts to trap OR-7, his mate or one of the pups to put a tracking collar on them were not successful last fall. John Stephenson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said they hope to have better luck this May. That's when the pack dens up for more pups.
Even if the GPS tracking collar fails, a separate unit on the collar emits a radio signal. It can be tracked by a directional antenna. That unit should continue working, Stephenson said.
Oregon could consider lifting state Endangered Species Act protections for wolves this year. Biologists must confirm that four or more packs produced pups. They must have survived through the end of the year. If the protections were lifted, it would not mean an end to protections. But it would give ranchers more options to deal with wolves that attack livestock.
OR-7 has continued to stay out of trouble as far as livestock are concerned.
Critical thinking challenge: What made it difficult to trap the wolf know as OR-7?