So beloved is OR-7 in Oregon that a newspaper cartoonist depicted him as a candidate during the 2012 presidential campaign.
Despite the high-tech gadgetry hanging from his neck, sightings are rare. Ms. Kovac’s department updates a tracking map when OR-7 moves significantly out of an area, but since July he has been hanging out mostly in Tehama County, and wildlife officers don’t want the public to know exactly where. Cattle ranchers, however, are warned if he gets too close or stays too long in one area.
“When we believe he’s reached a threshold, when he’s hanging around in one area too long … we have felt compelled to knock on doors and tell them to be a little more vigilant,” Ms. Kovacs said.
For the past month, he has been roaming around the northern and eastern edges of Tehama County around Red Bluff as he follows deer migrating from the northern Sierra to lower grazing areas at around 1,500 feet. He has approached I-5 on several occasions but never crossed the freeway, though he repeatedly has crossed less traveled highways.
With a sample size of just one, it’s hard to note any breakthroughs in wolf science, though researchers have been amazed at the distances OR-7 has covered. The 3,000 miles recorded are just connecting the dots between GPS coordinates and don’t count any meandering in between.
“If you look at dispersing gray wolves, OR-7 is clearly on the far end of the bell curve in terms of how far he has traveled,” Ms. Kovacs said. “He’s not the first, but there are a handful that have traveled this far. That has been what’s most interesting about him.”