Journey: The only wild wolf in California
Last month I mentioned a ‘celebrity wolf’, who has been making a solo journey of hundreds of miles (over 1,000 km) throughout the American State of Oregon – the great state in which I was born if anyone cares… didn’t think so.
Anyway, the lone Gray Wolf, until now known by the clinical moniker OR-7, has made his way – like so many disillusioned loners in search of stardom – into California. He’s the only wild wolf known to set foot in the state in over 80 years.
OR-7 has also got himself a new, infinitely more marketable, celebrity name: Journey. The name comes from the 80’s band and was picked by a couple of kids who participated in an effort by the conservation group Oregon Wild, with the goal of making Journey, unlike his father, too famous to kill.
From the Associated Press:
OR-7 left the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon last September, shortly before the state put a death warrant on his father and a sibling for killing cattle. He is a descendant of wolves introduced into the Northern Rockies in the 1990s, and represents the westernmost expansion of a regional population that now tops 1,650.
Seems the sins of the father shall not be visited on this son. Maybe Journey knows a bit of California state law?
From the Los Angeles Times:
Last fall, gray wolves in other areas of the U.S. were delisted from Endangered Species Act protection after enormous political pressure from hunters and ranchers. However, any wolf naturally dispersing into California, where wolves have been extinct since a trapper in Lassen County killed the last one in 1924, would be protected under the law.
Despite being a unique lupine phenomenon in California, Journey may run into plenty of coyotes in the state. California’s Department of Fish and Game has launched a website in response to the lone wolf, including a page which describes the differences between wolves and coyotes. Wolves are about twice the size as coyotes, with rounder ears, squarer faces and are light gray to black as opposed to the light gray to brown of their canid cousins.