OR-7 still prowling Northern California

The nomadic gray wolf OR-7 that became the first known wolf in Western Oregon in 65 years when it migrated to the south Cascades last fall continues to wander the remote areas of northeastern California.

OR-7 remains the only known gray wolf in the Golden State since 1924 and has spent most of August in northeast Plumas County due east of Red Bluff, according to the California Department of Fish and Game.

Curiously, the wolf's radio-transmitting collar used to monitor his daily movements showed last week that he had meandered extremely close to the 63,160-acre Chips fire, which was still burning out of control near Lake Almanor.

California wolf biologists have speculated that he might be looking to prey on game fleeing the flames.

The Cal Fish and Game's wolf-tracking website put OR-7 in northwestern Plumas County on Friday. There were no downloaded GPS coordinates for him Monday.

The GPS coordinates have placed OR-7 in California since he was last known to leave Oregon on April 1.

OR-7 gained international fame last fall when the then-21/2-year-old male struck off from the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon to find his own territory and a mate. That venture took him to the western slopes of Mount McLoughlin in Jackson County before entering California's Siskiyou County on Dec. 28.

Unlike some of his Imnaha relatives, OR-7 has not been known to be involved in any livestock kills since he was collared in February 2011, says wolf program spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy. However, OR-7 may have been involved in Imnaha livestock kills before his collaring, Dennehy says.

"We just don't know," she says.

While OR-7 is in California, weekday updates on his general whereabouts can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/nongame/wolf/.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

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