Another wandering wolf has found its way to the Cascades of southwestern Oregon, where OR-7 has established his pack after trekking thousands of miles in search of a mate.
An automatic trail camera snapped a photo of the new wolf in timberlands west of the Klamath County community of Keno, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist John Stephenson said Tuesday. The camera was set out by an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist after he spotted a track in the snow in December.
The arrival of another wandering wolf confirms that the animal continues to spread widely across the region after being reintroduced in the Northern Rockies in the 1990s.
The area was actually frequented by OR-7 before he settled down farther north, Stephenson said.
"I am surprised to see another wolf unrelated to (OR-7's) Rogue pack down in that area so soon," Stephenson said. "It does suggest some sort of dispersal corridor (through which) they are making their way over to that part of the state. But we have no way of knowing. We have a number of long-distance dispersers out there that aren't collared. Even though it appears this one is staying in this area, I don't think we completely know it will stick in that area or keep moving around."
OR-7 became famous around the world after his GPS tracking collar chronicled his travels once he left the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon in 2011. He meandered across mountains, forests, deserts and highways to the southern Cascades, south into Northern California, and back again before finding a mate last winter and settling down on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and having a set of pups.
The blurry photo taken Jan. 5 shows a grey wolf trotting down a gravel road past a stand of tall pine and fir trees. Though it does not show the animal's head, it is clear from the body that it is an adult, Stephenson said. He adds that though it is grey, like OR-7, they know it is not him because his GPS tracking collar showed him far away at the time.
Based on the photo, Oregon Fish and Wildlife would establish a new Area of Known Wolf Activity in the area next week, spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said.
Wildlife agencies last week confirmed official pack status on OR-7, his mate and their pups.
Rob Klavins of the conservation group Oregon Wild said he hoped the state would get ahead of the curve and work to prevent conflicts between the wolves and livestock by working with ranchers to take non-lethal steps to protect their herds grazing in the area.
He cited U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics that about 1,000 cattle are lost each week in Oregon to weather, dogs, disease and other causes, while just five have been confirmed killed by wolves each of the last three years.
Hugh Charley, past president of the Jackson County Stockmen, grazes cattle each summer in the area west of Keno where the wolf was sighted. Oregon Fish and Wildlife informed him and other ranchers of the wolf sighting last weekend at the group's annual meeting. Though ranchers were not happy to learn another wolf moved into the area, Charley said he expected they would learn to live with them.
"It's not going to go away," he said of wolves.
© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.