Wolf OR7 was located in Oregon for the first time since late December at noon Thursday, March 1. As of midnight last night, OR7 was in Jackson County, Oregon.
OR7 had been in northern Siskiyou County, Calif., less than 10 miles from the Oregon-California border, for the past 12 days. While OR7 crossed a state boundary yesterday, his movement was small (about 30 miles).
“While wolves crossing state boundaries may be significant for people, wolves and other wildlife don’t pay attention to state borders,” said Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator. “It’s possible OR7 will cross back into California and be using areas in both states. ODFW will continue to monitor his location and coordinate with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Fish and Game.”
While OR7 is west of Highways 395-78-95 in Oregon, he remains protected by both the federal and state Endangered Species Acts.
OR7 left the Imnaha pack in September 2011 and went through Baker, Grant, Lake, Crook, Harney, Deschutes, Klamath and Jackson counties before entering California Dec. 28, 2011.
While in California, he travelled through eastern Siskiyou County, northeastern Shasta County and then resided in Lassen County for a few weeks. On Feb. 11 he re-entered Shasta County and then, about a week later, he crossed north into Siskiyou County. California Fish and Game has been updating his status on the website www.dfg.ca.gov/wolf/
Meanwhile, The Center for Biological Diversity and three other conservation groups this week petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to protect gray wolves as an endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act.
Wolves, which are not currently protected under the state law, were absent from the state from 1924 until late in 2011, when OR7 crossed the state line.
“The return of the gray wolf to California is exciting -- it’s a cause for celebration,” said Noah Greenwald, the Center’s endangered species director. “The West Coast is crucial to wolf recovery in the United States, and California has hundreds of square miles of excellent wolf habitat. But if that one wolf is to become many, wolves need help so they don’t get killed. They need the protection of the state’s Endangered Species Act, and they need a science-based recovery plan.”
Gray wolves are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act in portions of their range, including California; but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, charged with implementing the Act, has not developed a recovery plan for wolves in California.
The petition says that wolves once roamed most of California. Even though California is now the most populated state in the West, scientists, says the petition, estimate there is still extensive habitat for wolves in both Northern California and the Sierra Nevada.
The Center was joined in the petition by Big Wildlife, the Environmental Protection Information Center and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center.