Update. Famous wolf has now crossed into California.
Story. Wolf is now in California. AP

After migrating across Oregon, but pausing for about a month south of Crater Lake N. P., wolf OR7 has begun to move southward again. He is now just 10 miles north of the CA border, a very easy day’s walk if he wants to go that way.

If he does, he will be the first recorded wild wolf in California in about 90 years. In case he does show up, California’s Department of Fish and Game is working on a management plan. It is due out in January. Of course, unless he finds a female, and that is very unlikely right now, his entry into California will be more of a curiosity.  However, if one wolf can migrate all the way from near the Idaho border to California, others can too.

Although no media have mentioned it yet, that a wolf could migrate almost a thousand miles (counting the twists and turns) in less than a year shows how easily wolves can and have migrated south from Canada into the United States.  The reintroduced wolves of 1995 from Alberta to central Idaho and Yellowstone Park came from only 250 miles north of the Idaho/Montana border and yet anti-wolf activists continue to say that these wolves were somehow different from the “original” wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming because Canada is so far away.When animals migrate as far as wolves do there is no possibility for the development of a distinct (different) subspecies because there has to be reproductive isolation for many generations for that to happen.

– – – –

*Note: in fact in 1995, there were already about 80 wolves in NW Montana that had migrated down from Alberta/B.C. — they were not part of the reintroduction.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Update. News Release by California Department of Fish and Game

December 29, 2011

Media Contacts:
Mark Stopher, DFG Executive Office, (530) 225-2275
Jordan Traverso, DFG Communications, (916) 654-9937

Wolf OR7 Enters California

The gray wolf that was wandering in southern Oregon has crossed the California border. According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) this animal is a 2 ½ year old male formerly from a pack in northeast Oregon. Since the animal has been collared with a Global Positioning System (GPS) device that periodically transmits its location, biologists have been able to document its travels since it was collared in February 2011. Based on the GPS data, he is now more than 300 miles from where his journey began.

His journey, in total, has been more than twice that far with many changes in direction. Several times he has reversed direction and returned to previous locations. Today, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) learned that this wolf, designated OR7, crossed the state line into northern Siskiyou County yesterday. Tracking data puts his most recent location as a few miles south of the Oregon border. It is not possible to predict his next movements which could include a return to Oregon.

DFG continues to collaborate with ODFW and expects to receive daily location data. This information is transmitted daily when atmospheric conditions permit. DFG will be sharing only general location information as this wolf, while in California, is protected as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

“Whether one is for it or against it, the entry of this lone wolf into California is an historic event and result of much work by the wildlife agencies in the West,” said DFG Director Charlton H. Bonham. “If the gray wolf does establish a population in California, there will be much more work to do here.”

Any wild gray wolf that returns to California is protected as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

DFG has been following the recovery and migration of gray wolves in western states with the expectation that at some point they will likely reach California. The last confirmed wild gray wolf in California was killed in Lassen County in 1924. The available historic information on wolves in California suggests that while they were widely distributed, they were not abundant. DFG has been compiling historic records, life history information, reviewing studies on wolf populations in other western states, enhancing communication with other agencies and training biologists on field techniques specific to wolves. This effort is to ensure that DFG has all the necessary information available when needed, it is not a wolf management plan and DFG does not intend to reintroduce wolves into California.

There are more than 1,600 wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains following a federal reintroduction effort which occurred in the mid-1990s. In 1999 a single wolf crossed into Oregon from Idaho, after nearly a 60-year absence in that state. There are now at least 24 wolves in Oregon in four reproducing packs. It has taken an additional 12 years for the first wolf to now reach the California border. This particular animal is exhibiting normal dispersal behavior for a young male and there is no way to predict whether he will stay in California, return to Oregon, or travel east into Nevada. Eventually, DFG expects that other wolves will reach California. Whether this will lead to the establishment of packs or simply transient individual animals is unknown.

Gray wolf recovery in other western states has been controversial, particularly regarding impacts on prey populations, livestock depredation and human safety. There have been instances where gray wolf predation has contributed to declines in deer and elk populations, however, in most cases, predation has had little effect. Some gray wolves have killed livestock – mostly cattle and sheep – while others rely entirely on wild prey. In other western states the impact of depredation on livestock has been small, less than predation by coyotes and mountain lions, although the effect on an individual livestock producer can be important, particularly when sheep are killed.

Concerns about human safety are largely based on folklore and are unsubstantiated in North America. In recent years there was one human mortality in Canada caused either by wolves or bears and one confirmed human mortality in Alaska by wolves. Based on experience from states where substantial wolf populations now exist, wolves pose little risk to humans. However, DFG recommends that people never approach a wolf, or otherwise tamper with or feed a wolf. More about how to avoid human-wildlife interactions can be found on DFG’s website at www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/.

In the near future DFG expects to add information to its website (www.dfg.ca.gov) to provide extensive information on wolves to the public.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

69 Responses to Wolf OR7 now just ten miles from California border (see update)

  1. avatar Jon Way says:

    Fascinating Ralph, thanks for the update. I have to admit that I am always most interested in the biology and stories associated with this rather than the lame politics that is dominating most of the wolf discussion right now. Hopefully as states gain authority they will have more sane mgmt plans and these types of stories will be the norm. But I am probably too much of a dreamer and optimist.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Jon Way,

      2012 could be quite a year politically. If the right wingers take over the Congress and the Presidency, things will be awful; but I think people are waking up to how the international corporations have cheated them, the tax policies have redistributed wealth upward to the often idle superrich (no they are not job creators!). There is a chance we can take it back from these Wall Street crooks, speculators and CEOs who fail and fail yet get their Boards to give them big raises and stock options.

      I guess you can see the Great Recession has moved my economic opinions a great distance from where they once were.

      • avatar Maska says:

        “Thy word,” as my late mother-in-law was fond of saying, “in God’s ear.” 🙂

      • avatar Daniel Berg says:

        It will be interesting to see an analysis regarding the number of wolves the suitable habitat in California might be able to carry, and how adequate the travel corridors are between that suitable habitat.

  2. avatar jdubya says:

    “Although no media have mentioned it yet, that a wolf could migrate almost a thousand miles (counting the twists and turns) in less than a year shows how easily wolves can and have migrated south from Canada into the United States.”

    Ralph, there you go again….popping sacred balloons. It is fascinating to watch this guy’s progress. Virgin territory for predator like him. He’s probably been hell on the ground squirrel population.

  3. avatar Nancy says:

    *Note: in fact in 1995, there were already about 80 wolves in NW Montana that had migrated down from Alberta/B.C. — they were not part of the reintroduction*

    Does make one wonder how much SSS was going on before after they made the ESL.

  4. avatar jon says:

    Here is an article about animals from an anti-wolf activist rancher in OR.

    http://portlandtribune.com/opinion/story.php?story_id=132511133980570300

  5. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    This might have been posted earlier but speaking of great distances for a traveling wolf this is the 3000 mile trek of a female wolf collared in Montana and poisoned in Colorado.
    http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/gray-wolf011.html#cr

    • avatar Mtn Mama says:

      Barb, Yes OR-7’s story is very similar to that of 341F. I sure hope he doesnt meet the same fate she did! It is a shame that no one has ever been named a suspect in her poisoning. I talked face to face to a head hancho at the Wild Life Services in Denver about this and he said that they knew who did it all along- that they had GPS coordinates on her locations accurate to every 20 minutes. He said “the animal rights activists blew the case by filing a FOIA”. Hmmmm, I thought 2 years would have been enough time for the time gather evidence.
      p.s. Though I called Ed Bangs about 341F several times, I never filed a FOIA.

  6. avatar Mike says:

    Incredible news and a historic day for California. If the wolf is heading into the Marble Mountains/Trinity Alps wilderness complex, it’s even better news. The wolf is looking at 800,000 acres of protected wilderness, not even counting hudreds of thousands of acres of unprotected roadless areas.

    I’d be interested in seeing which side of Highway 5 the wolf is on.

  7. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    Thanks everyone. I have just updated the story about OR7 now in the Golden State.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      If the wolf was smart, it would get the hell back north of the border, those people in N. CA have their own ideal of how life should go..Nothing like those south of Sacramento.

      • avatar Mike says:

        I haven’t seen anything in California that compares to the idiocy in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana when it comes to wildlife.

        • avatar Savebears says:

          I have Mike..

          • avatar Jeff N. says:

            SB,

            ++I have Mike..++

            Elaborate if you’d like.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            If I like Jeff?

            How about a small community of N CA residents literally stringing a deer up by the legs between 4 tree for fun at a BBQ, how bout, beating a goat to death to see how long it would live? How bout 6 Bull elk taken out of a heard by shotgun ham stringing. Do you wish me to go on? I can even add incidents of assault directed at humans, they are pretty gruesome, involving lost limbs, broken sinuses, etc.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Northern CA is not friendly to humans, let alone wildlife…been there done that many times, one of the bases I served on has housing in N CA

          • avatar Mike says:

            Northern California is one of the friendliest places I’ve been. Sure, the coastal communities are a little more tame than the areas north and east of Redding, but overall I haven’t encountered the outright, widespread hostility towards wildlife there that I have in the Northern Rockies. I’m sure it exists in pockets, but Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana make political campaigns out of animal hate. That’s how bad it is there.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Then you are a lucky individual Mike.

        • avatar Daniel Berg says:

          Mike,

          I’ve seen plenty of idiocy in California, both north and south. As a relevant example, I’ve heard that one or more of our fanatically anti-wolf crusaders used to call California home.

    • avatar Salle says:

      Here’s the part I find interesting, especially coming from a state F&G agency. (Apparently truth matters to them, rather than political vitriol)…

      Concerns about human safety are largely based on folklore and are unsubstantiated in North America. In recent years there was one human mortality in Canada caused either by wolves or bears and one confirmed human mortality in Alaska by wolves. Based on experience from states where substantial wolf populations now exist, wolves pose little risk to humans. However, DFG recommends that people never approach a wolf, or otherwise tamper with or feed a wolf. More about how to avoid human-wildlife interactions can be found on DFG’s website at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/.

      • avatar william huard says:

        The difference between states is striking. One state talks about tolerance. Another state talks about allowing hunters to kill bison inside or near Yellowstone National Park (Based on a false brucellosis argument) and having a blowhard hunting lobby promote a 100.00 bounty on wolves… Now there’s growth. And some people view Montana as “progressive”

        • avatar jdubya says:

          Who views Montana as progressive? That is news to me. Montana is many things, positive and negative, but progressive? maybe a wine bar or two in Bozeman…..

          • avatar Elk275 says:

            Good old Plonk, I have spent a dollar or two there in the past and will again tonight.

          • avatar william huard says:

            I can’t remember the exact information source, but I have heard it. I guess if you compare Montana to Idaho, Utah or Wyoming…..
            What should you expect from a state that uses a livestock agency to manage wild bison populations….How’s that workin out for the bison?

          • avatar Salle says:

            It would be hard to categorize MT as progressive by reading what news about the legislature comes to the public at large. I do know quite a few progressive minded residents, but the legislature rarely cares what they have to say, think or want the legislature to address ~ mostly because most of us aren’t providing them with million$perks and contributions. They seem to have a problem with the educated disrupting their “stupidspeak” that they use to get re-elected over and over again.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            I would never consider Montana progressive..

      • avatar Mike says:

        ++“Concerns about human safety are largely based on folklore and are unsubstantiated in North America. In recent years there was one human mortality in Canada caused either by wolves or bears and one confirmed human mortality in Alaska by wolves. Based on experience from states where substantial wolf populations now exist, wolves pose little risk to humans. However, DFG recommends that people never approach a wolf, or otherwise tamper with or feed a wolf. More about how to avoid human-wildlife interactions can be found on DFG’s website at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/.“++

        California, FTW. Immediately they come out and call the Idaho nonsense what it is: folklore.

        • avatar Salle says:

          I particularly like the part (also in the very first sentence of that paragraph) where they mention the Canada incident as either bears or wolves… Not to rehash that argument but I think it’s rather open-minded of them to put it that way rather than the fearmongering taint that accompanies any reports in the NRM. Those fearmongering techniques are so old and have so much rind on them ~ from overuse ~ that there’s just no “pulp” left to them. This is somehow refreshing, perhaps a harbinger of a more welcoming attitude among the inhabitants of the state… or at least the co-management agency. It’s a good start, hope I’m not disappointed.

          • avatar Mike says:

            California leads the nation in many things, mostly good. They’re always ahead of the curve. I’d expect nothing less than this common sense, forward-thinking, yet stern press release concerning OR7.

            Welcome to modern society, wolves. A refreshing, sane response that essentially put a dagger into the the Northern Rockies nonsense.

          • avatar Mike says:

            The feel of that press release is one of a patient father correcting his upset child.

            Grown ups are in charge in California.

          • avatar WM says:

            Mike,

            ++California leads the nation in many things, mostly good. ++

            Name three.

          • avatar Mike says:

            1. Conservation

            2. Fashion and pop culture

            3. Medical marijuana

            4. Stem cell research

            5. Global warming

            6. Prescription drug discounts

            7. Minimum wage increase

            8. Civil liberties (gay marriage, etc)

            California, the trend-setter:

            http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/10/30/eveningnews/main2138297.shtml

          • avatar WM says:

            1. Conservation – worst mass transit system in the country and one of the worst at consuming land for buildings and roadways.

            2. Fashion and pop culture – most consumptive and probably the single worst influence on moral values (and ethics other than Wall St.)in the country. Thank Hollywood for some of that.

            3. Medical marijuana – Whoa Dude this is freakin’ me out. Maybe a good thing, but an excuse for alot of other users. WA is headed the same direction, with a couple of docs that will write you a pain scrip just on your say so. No med records required. This gonna stop the flow of illegal dope, Dave? Dave’s not here. No, man, I’m Dave (0ld Cheech and Chong routine)

            4. Stem cell research – 4Stars. This one counts

            5. Global warming – Like what, creating it? See number 1, and then there are all those damn air conditioners sucking the life out of the Columbia hydro. Oh, lordy and the smog. Ever been on an LA Freeway?

            6. Prescription drug discounts – Don’t know about that one, maybe its a good one.

            7. Minimum wage increase – That will help us compete in the world labor market. Then there are the illegals that work under the radar, forcing businesses who play by the rules out.

            8. Civil liberties (gay marriage, etc) – Well, now there’s an improvement in the minds of some.

            California, the trend-setter – Probably a few trends the country could do without. And, here’s one from the legal arena. Their state Supreme Court generates some of that craziest legal precidents that most other states, when looking for comparable issues and reasoning for their own decisions, DO NOT FOLLOW.
            And, then there is the 9th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the most reversed in the Federal court system.

            __________________

            I count maybe two good ones. Got anything else?

      • avatar JB says:

        “Based on experience from states where substantial wolf populations now exist, wolves pose little risk to humans.”

        I don’t know…California’s statement is reminiscent of the way Colorado responded to Mountain lions during the late 80s and early 90s–right up until a young man was killed by a cat while running. I think it is important that agencies are cautious–and not dismissive–when making these kinds of statements.

        To be clear, I agree that the risk posed by wolves is miniscule when compared with other types of hazards–even those encountered in the wilderness (e.g., weather). However, it is important that people understand that wolves are wild animals that can and will (under the right circumstances) kill people. Were I representing an agency, I would emphasize that one of the contributing factors to “the right circumstances” is people feeding wolves. They need to understand that their actions could have repercussions for other individuals.

        Still, it is nice to see wolves enter a western state without legislative calls for the National Guard.

  8. avatar Mtn Mama says:

    Godspeed to OR7!!!!!

  9. avatar WM says:

    From the news release at the introduction of this thread:

    ++…and DFG does not intend to reintroduce wolves into California.++

    If CA would just step forward and take a few of those excess ID or MT wolves, the CA recovery would be quicker and ID may be happier, and maybe so would this lone disperser, as he would not have a futile search for a mate. Problem solved.

  10. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    Daniel Berg and all,

    In 2001 there was a scientific article addressing colonization of wolves in California via Oregon. It also discusses the restoration of grizzly bears and wolverines to California. Here is the reference and the article.

    Carroll, C., Noss, R.F., Shoemaker, N, and P.C. Paquet. 2001. Is the restoration of wolf, wolverine, and grizzly bear to Oregon and California biologically feasible? In D. S. Maeher, R. F. Noss, and J. L. Larkin (eds.) Large Mammal Restoration, Island Press, Washington, D.C.

  11. avatar Doryfun says:

    I wonder if the wayward wolf that landed in CA could be somewhat of an innate survival mechanism embedded deep in wolves DNA?

    A fisheries biologist on one of my river trips once told me that 1% of the female steelhead actually make it back to the Riggins area a second time to spawn on Salmon River (unlike steelhead on coastal rivers, which both sexes return sometimes ever more than twice). Also, Riggins is 630 miles from Astoria by river, which is a pretty astounding distance itself,that fish travel, not even counting ocean mileage. He said it is an evolutionary hedge against natural catastrophic events. Basically, not putting all eggs in one basket.

    So,probably a phenomenon not just practiced by fish, but wolves, too. Or rather, all fish and wildlife, as that is just how nature works. No big surprise.

  12. avatar Alan says:

    ++…and DFG does not intend to reintroduce wolves into California.++
    Maybe not, but it would sure be nice if somebody could just drop one female in there. I feel sorry for this guy, wandering farther and farther south in search of a mate and doomed to failure. If he had a mate he would likely settle down in the wilderness and raise a family. Without one, we are sooner or later going to be reading about his tragic death; hit by a car, poisoned, shot by a rancher…
    Sure wish I could get him a girlfriend.

    • avatar william huard says:

      Alan-

      I agree 100% with your post. He will keep traveling in search of a mate- and at some point his luck will run out. This is an opportunity for CA to show the rest of the west how to manage wolves without the same Otter, Mead, Schweitzer toxic nonsense…..Let the Fish and Game devise a plan without the politics

      • avatar william huard says:

        First wolf in CA in 80 years? This is a very big deal. Jon Way- remember when the wolf traveled from Canada all the way to Sherburne MA? Only to be shot by a chicken farmer…

      • avatar Mike says:

        ++This is an opportunity for CA to show the rest of the west how to manage wolves without the same Otter, Mead, Schweitzer toxic nonsense…..Let the Fish and Game devise a plan without the politics.++

        Yes. And let’s hope those in California largely ignore the politicians and Fish and Game personnel in the Northern Rockies.

        Clearly, with that statement, they’re already ahead of them.

    • avatar jon says:

      Why can’t they take a few female wolves from Idaho and drop them off in California? It’s good that this male wolf made it to California, but if there are no females with him, he will continue to be the only wolf in California.

  13. avatar Gary Wilson says:

    Hate to say it… but California will probably manage wolf populations a bit better than Idaho has. The backwards feudalistic ranching state that is Idaho doesn’t exactly fly in California, so I could see wolves having a better existence in that state.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      It may well depend on where they end up Gary. Sheep (and I believe dairy cows) are a part of the ag landscape in northern CA and there is no tolerance for dogs (fido) or packs of dogs running loose and getting into livestock. “Shoot on sight” policy.

      There is a ranch in my area (Montana) that takes an ad out in the local paper each year claiming it will shoot loose dogs, if found on their property.

  14. avatar Nabeki says:

    With an estimated 4000 to 6000 mountain lions in California the state is tolerant of big predators, thanks to Prop.117. Lions can only be killed for livestock depredation, human safety, killing pets or listed bighorn sheep.
    ===
    “Why can’t mountain lions be hunted in California?

    With the passage of Proposition 117 in 1990, mountain lions became a “specially protected species,” making mountain lion hunting illegal in California. This status and other statutes prohibit the Department of Fish and Game from recommending a hunting season for lions, and it is illegal to take, injure, possess, transport, import, or sell any mountain lion or part of a mountain lion.”

    http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news/issues/lion/lion_faq.html
    ===
    OR7 would be fine in California, if only he could find a dispersing uncollared female.Otherwise he might head back to Oregon or god forbid Nevada. I know he’s being tracked, literally and there have been no other wolf tracks found save his but in the wolf world anything can happen. Just stay safe OR7.

    DFG’s statememnt on wolves was so sensible, I almost cried.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      I have talked to three of my friends in N. California since this story has broke.

      Not a pretty picture, to bad that wolf has a collar.

      • avatar Connie says:

        I saw on another thread where you predict the wolf will be shot. Are criminals using the collar to track him?

        • avatar Salle says:

          Connie,

          Unfortunately, many of these collars have a frequency that many receivers can detect, I’m sure Cabella’s has something for GPS collars by now, given their anti-predator marketing strategies. Could very well be that criminals or potential criminals would be able to track this wolf too.

          A sad and preventable truth.

          • avatar william huard says:

            People should be celebrating the potential return of the wolf in CA for the first time in 80 years. The CA Fish and Game should make a plan to support the return of this species- not rely on the chance that some idiot will kill this animal and say “oh well” what a shame…..
            The CA Cattlemens Assoc said that the return of the wolf will “change everything”- yes- they will have to come into the 21st century like the rest of us

      • avatar Mike says:

        Are your friends criminals?

        • avatar Savebears says:

          No Mike, they are not criminals, what a stupid question!

          • avatar Mike says:

            Then how do you know this wolf is going to be shot?

          • avatar william huard says:

            SaveBears is a mystic. He foresees this wolf getting shot. But he makes clear that he’s doesn’t support this wolf getting poached.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            I am realistic and passing along information passed to me by State Game Contacts, who are stating the exact same thing. My friends with the state agency fully expect the wolf will be shot, they are doing what they can to prevent it happening, but it is a large area with few to patrol it.

          • avatar jon says:

            This is why we need to reintroduce wolves into California. Savebears says the wolf is going to get shot. Take a few of Idaho and Montana wolves and reintroduce them into California.

      • avatar JRFF E says:

        that is a very pessimistic outlook SB

  15. avatar JEFF E says:

    Ralph,
    the comments I talked with you about have now disappeared altogether

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

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