First color photo of OR7 wolf taken in California
A couple of months ago California’s only wild wolf went back to Oregon, leaving the Golden State effectively wolfless.
But now he’s back in Cali and the paparazzi have caught him on film.
Actually, OR7′s – or as he is sometimes referred to, Journey’s – photo was snapped by an employee of the California Department of Fish and Game
From the Los Angeles Times:
For the last couple of months he has wandered back and forth across the state border, most recently spending time in Modoc County. Tuesday, state fish and game staff were visiting ranchers, advising them that the wolf was in their area, when they spotted OR7 in the distance running across private land.
OR7 left his pack last September and has been a lone wolf since, though lately he’s been spotted hanging around with some coyotes in California. Perhaps if he gets lonely they are the closest things to wolves for company.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
The odd flirtation with the coyotes was a surprise considering that wolves and coyotes are normally rivals. Wolf packs in Yellowstone National Park and other locations where the two species intermingle will attack and kill any coyotes seen on their territory. Department experts said, however, that it is not unheard of for transient gray wolves to befriend coyotes or domestic dogs on their journeys, apparently just for the company.
Lone wolves are not as competitive for territory as those in packs. In fact, they usually set out on their own to form new packs. OR7’s association with the coyotes could result in him mating with one, which could even produce wolf-coyote hybrids or “coywolves”.
Though local cattle ranchers in Northern California’s Siskiyou County recently proposed an ordinance to “ban” wolves (killing them presumably), officials rejected the proposal due to lack of community support and the fact that only one wolf, a celebrity no less, has been spotted in the state in nearly 100 years. Bit of an over-reaction by the cattle ranchers, really.
Still, OR7’s father and sibling both had death warrants (now suspended) on their heads for killing cattle. His brother was illegally shot in Idaho.
Read more on OR7/Journey in this AP article.
lead image photo by National Park Service