By the mid-1940s, wolves were wiped out from their natural habitat in Oregon. But thanks to a heroic effort of reintroducing 66 wolves from Canada to Yellowstone and central Idaho in 1995 and 1996, wolves would again make their way into Oregon…
A female wolf known as B-300 descended from wolves reintroduced to Idaho. She was the 300th wolf to be radio collared by biologists in Idaho. Young wolves regularly disperse from their birth-packs to find a mate and establish a territory of their own, akin to how our children in our own families leave home to make their own way in the world. When B-300 left her Timberline pack, she traveled over 100 miles west, crossing the Snake River to set paw in Oregon soil, where she was observed by biologists in 2008. She and an uncollared male wolf, who had also dispersed from Idaho into Oregon, paired and started a family in the Wallowa Mountains in the northeast corner of the state. The Imnaha pack they founded was the first wild wolf pack to call Oregon home in over 50 years.
Biologists fitted B-300 with a new radio collar, and she became known as OR-2, which designated that she was the second radio collared wolf in Oregon. Her mate he was fitted with a radio collar in 2010, and he was known as OR-4. OR-7 was born in the couple’s first litter. When OR-7 was 2.5 years old, he too was ready to search for a mate and establish territory. Like his parents before him, pioneers who helped progress wolf recovery from Idaho into Oregon, OR-7 would pioneer wolf recovery from Oregon into California. In September 2011, OR-7 left his Imnaha pack on what would become an epic journey. Although more than a decade had passed since wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone and central Idaho, only 21 wild wolves were known to roam Oregon when OR-7 set out to find a mate. Determined to raise a family of his own, the brave wolf dubbed Journey in a naming contest, charted a path across dangerous highways and wilderness that had not been treaded by any wolf in almost a century.
On December 28, 2011, OR-7 set paw in California and made history as the first known wild wolf in the state since 1924. His arrival put a face on wolf recovery in the Pacific Northwest, and spurred California to develop the wolf management plans that protect gray wolves under the California Endangered Species Act.
An international celebrity, fans worldwide followed his travels and cheered for a happy ending. Along the way, we recognized that like OR-7, we must never give up the fight.
Between 2011-2014, OR-7 continued his journey, traveling back and forth across the border of Oregon and California, eventually persisting in finding a mate, establishing a pack, and producing pups in the Rouge-Siskiyou National Forest in southwestern Oregon. His Rogue pack is celebrated as the first wolf pack in western Oregon since wolves were eradicated back in the 1940s.In Spring 2020, officials observed OR-7s mate and other members of the Rogue pack; however, OR-7 was absent. At 11 years old, he had already exceeded the age of most wild wolves and was presumed to have passed.
OR-7s legacy lives on through his descendants, including a son who founded California's Lassen pack, a daughter who traveled over 8,000 miles after leaving her pack in search of a mate and territory of her own, and others who continue to put new paw prints on unchartered soil. OR-7 may be gone, but his spirit lives on through his family's continued presence in the wild. He will never be forgotten by all of us who know his journey and contribution to wolf recovery.
Follows the journey of OR-7, the first wild wolf to reach California in nearly 100 years. 2016 (ages 6-9)