Easy come, easy go

The first wolf confirmed to have reached Jackson County in more than 65 years now has the added distinction of being the most recent wolf to leave it.

Satellite tracking systems show that the 2-year-old male wolf known as OR-7 wandered out of Jackson County and back across the Cascade crest into Klamath County some time late last week.

The animal, which has covered 300 miles during a two-month dispersal jaunt from Northeast Oregon, entered Jackson County on Nov. 13, and transmissions from its radio collar showed it in Jackson County as recently as Thursday, says Michelle Dennehy, Wildlife Division spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The most recent satellite recording Saturday showed that the wolf had backtracked across the Cascade crest, Dennehy says. No new satellite contact has been made since then, she says.

It is not considered uncommon for collared wolves to disappear from satellite contact for several days when they're in areas where radio contact is difficult.

Though the wolf was present in Jackson County for less than a week, several people have reported seeing it — or other wolves — in the mountains east of Butte Falls.

Don Terrell of Eagle Point was riding the backwoods with his sister looking for fall colors when they turned a corner and spotted an animal loping down the dirt road about 50 yards away.

"I was thinking, that's no coyote," Terrell says. "It's gray and silver. It's a wolf. He saw us, veered off the road and was gone."

Terrell says he was too far away to see whether the animal was collared.

Most dispersing wolves travel alone, and there is no indication whether OR-7 has been joined by any other animals, but biologists have said there is a "high likelihood" other noncollared wolves have reached the Cascades.

Biologists also have said they have no way to predict when and where the wolf will settle after this dispersal from its original pack.

Since leaving the Imnaha Mountains east of Enterprise on Sept. 10, the meandering wolf has entered 10 different counties while traveling southwesterly across the high desert and into the southern Cascades.

After high-tailing it through Deschutes County, the wolf crossed the Cascade crest into Douglas County on Oct. 27, making it the first known wolf in western Oregon since the last one was shot for a bounty in Douglas County in 1946.

Born in Oregon in 2009 and collared last February, OR-7 is one of 23 known wolves in Oregon.

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

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