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Will California's lone wolf return? We'll probably never know.

April 01, 2014|By Karin Klein
  • OR-7, shortly before he became a temporary California resident.
OR-7, shortly before he became a temporary California resident. (Allen Daniels / Associated…)

OR-7 is California’s wolf. Or at least he was, for a little while, when he wandered across the border from Oregon and got everyone briefly excited that this might mean the return of wolves to our state. The 2-year-old wolf entered California during the last days of 2011, stayed here for well over a year, went back up north, came down for a visit of just a few days and then, in late April 2013, readopted Oregon.

But he was a star during his time here; people looked up tracking maps on him and traded the latest info on where he was hanging out. He captured Californians’ imaginations — and made a few people fret, though wolves seldom pose a threat to people and he stayed in remote forest. Before his brief residency, the last the state had seen of a wolf was in 1924.

And now it’s unlikely we’ll ever find out where OR-7 decides to live out his life.

The battery in his GPS-signaling collar has grown old and wildlife biologists have no plans to replace it. They’re understandably more interested in breeding pairs. So one day in the not-too-distant future, OR-7’s whereabouts will be unknown.

That’s OK. I tend to agree with Rob Klavins of the conservation nonprofit Oregon Wild, who told a local newspaper, “It’s good to have a little mystery in the world.”

We have to track some wildlife to know whether restoration efforts are working, but wildlife seems less wild when we’re tracking it as though it were the toddler offspring of overprotective parents.

Besides, this way, we can always imagine that he came back for good.


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