OR-7 returns to Oregon

Map of OR-7's travels within California from Dec. 2011 to July 2012. Source: California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Map of OR-7’s travels within California from Dec. 2011 to July 2012. Source: California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

As we reported here, a gray wolf designated as OR-7 crossed from Oregon into California in December 2011, marking the first time a wolf had been confirmed in California in more than 75 years. More than a year and many travel miles later, OR-7 this week crossed back into Oregon.

Both states’ wildlife agencies have web pages devoted to gray wolves that provide periodic updates but not (for good reason) real-time tracking. Oregon’s is here, California’s here.

It’s interesting to watch how different states respond to gray wolf visits or the possibility of visits. In California the major reaction so far seems to have been excitement at the prospect that wolves might someday return to the state in a more sustainable or permanent way. In Utah, by contrast, the Defenders of Wildlife blog reports that the state is spending $300,000 to support anti-wolf lobbying. Of course it’s not news that politics in general and the politics of natural resources and wildlife in particular are very different in California and in Utah. But perhaps also it’s important that California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife has tried to take a realistic look at what a future with wolves might look like, including management flexibility and response to any livestock attacks that might occur. Not everyone’s on board with a single vision of how wolves should be managed in California, of course; the Tehama County Board of Supervisors, for example, has formally opposed the prospect of listing the gray wolf under California’s Endangered Species Act. But those who oppose or are nervous about the potential return of the wolf to the state do feel their concerns have been heard by the agency, which may help dial down the tension level.

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