California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Gray Wolf (OR-10), Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Gray Wolf (OR-10)
Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Reports

OR-7 – A Lone Wolf's Story

Background

The male wolf known as “OR7” was born in northeastern Oregon in spring 2009. It weighed approximately 90 pounds when collared with a radio transmitter by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) in February 2011. It is referred to by biologists as OR7 because it was the seventh wolf radio-collared in Oregon. Its collar transmits location information to satellites daily and is expected to continue to function until at least 2013.

Until recently, OR7 was a member of northeastern Oregon’s Imnaha pack. The Imnaha pack was first documented in 2009 and currently occupies much of the Imnaha River drainage (east of the communities of Enterprise and Joseph) in Wallowa County. The founding members of this pack migrated into Oregon from Idaho.

Although it had as many as 16 wolves in 2010, the Imnaha pack may now have as few as five animals. 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. According to ODFW, it is likely that some or all of these wolves may have also dispersed from the pack.

The dispersal of younger individuals from a pack is common. Dispersing wolves generally attempt to join other packs, carve out new territories within occupied habitat, or form their own pack in unoccupied habitat. In addition to OR7, known dispersers from the Imnaha pack include OR5, OR9 and OR3:  

  • OR5 is a female and entered southeastern Washington in December 2010. Its current whereabouts are unknown.
  • OR9 is a male that swam across Brownlee Reservoir and entered Idaho in July 2011 where he was subsequently taken by a hunter in February 2012. 

  • OR3 is a male that dispersed westward in May 2011. Its collar transmits VHF radio signals only, making the animal more difficult to regularly locate. It was last located on September 30 in the Ochoco Mountains of central Oregon (northeast of Prineville), and its current fate is unknown.

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.

Dispersal – Oregon

OR7 dispersed from the Imnaha pack in September 2011. Between September and early November it followed an approximately southwesterly course that took it across parts of Baker, Grant, Harney, Deschutes, Lake, Klamath and Douglas counties. During that journey it crossed Interstate 84 and U.S. Routes 26, 395, 20 and 97.

Between November 8 and December 23, OR7’s movements slowed and it occupied a broad area near the crest of the southern Cascades. This area included portions of Jackson and Klamath counties and included much of the Sky Lakes Wilderness. Field work conducted by ODFW determined that OR7 visited an elk carcass and livestock carcasses (bone pile) in this area. On November 14, an animal thought likely to be OR7 was photographed by a hunter’s trail camera on public land east of Butte Falls.

In late December, OR7 left the Sky Lakes area and headed south-southwest to near Howard Prairie Lake and Oregon Route 66. It then turned eastward, ultimately crossing the Klamath River and Highway 97. On December 28, OR7 crossed into California northeast of Dorris, a small town in Siskiyou County.

Dispersal – California

Since arriving in California, OR7 has traveled in the southern Cascades and across portions of the Modoc Plateau. Its average daily movement has been approximately 15 air miles. Since animals do not typically walk in straight lines, the actual distance it travels is likely much larger.

Dispersing wolves can readily traverse most habitat types and OR7 has passed through ponderosa pine forests, mixed conifer forests, lava flows, sagebrush shrublands, juniper woodlands and agricultural lands. Although OR7 has used private lands (timberlands in particular), most of its route has traversed public lands.

No public safety incidents events or agricultural losses stemming from wolf damage have been reported in California. There have been no confirmed sightings of OR7 in California.

Dec 28 – 31. After entering California, OR7 passed through Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and then continued south-southeasterly across private and public lands (BLM and USFS) near Mt. Dome. On December 31 it was on the Modoc National Forest between Lava Beds National Monument and Medicine Lake.

Week of January 1-7. OR7 remained in roughly the same area between Medicine Lake and Lava Beds NM until January 3. On January 3 and 4, OR7 crossed the Medicine Lake Highlands and moved approximately 30 air miles to the southeastern corner of Siskiyou County. It entered eastern Shasta County’s Fall River watershed on January 5. It soon turned westward and crossed the Pit River and Highway 89. On January 6 and 7, it was in the Cascade Mountains west of Burney. It spent much of its time in an area of regenerating forest that had burned in the 1992 Fountain Fire. 

Week of January 8-15. OR7 remained in the Cascades west of Burney until January 9. It then traveled south along the Cascade crest to LaTour State Forest before turning  eastward. By the end of January 10, it had crossed Highways 89 and 44 and was in Lassen County near Bogard Buttes (over 49 air miles from its transmitted location point on January 9). OR7 continued its rapid travel on January 11, traveling approximately 30 air miles to near Grasshopper Valley in northern Lassen County.