Oregon's wandering wolf now leader of a pack
Oregon's famous wandering wolf is officially the leader of his own pack.
State and federal wildlife agencies said they have designated 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 the Snake River in the 1990s.
As a youngster, OR-7 left his pack in northeastern Oregon in September 2011. He traveled thousands of miles across Oregon and back and forth into Northern California. He finally found a mate last winter 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 this spring.
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. It should continue working, Stephenson said.
Oregon could consider lifting state Endangered Species Act protections for wolves this year. That's if biologists confirm that four or more packs produced pups that survived through the end of the year. If the protections were lifted, it would not mean an end to protections for wolves. But it would give ranchers more options for dealing with wolves that attack livestock.
OR-7 has continued to stay out of trouble as far as livestock are concerned.
Oregon's management plan calls for protections to continue for the Rogue Pack. That's until there are four packs in western Oregon producing pups for three years running. Federal Endangered Species Act protection also remains in force in western Oregon and California.
Critical thinking challenge: What made it difficult to trap the wolf know as OR-7?