Oregon’s famous wandering wolf OR-7 may soon be dropping off the maps.
State wildlife officials announced that they don’t plan to recollar the wolf – meaning that his future travels across the West wouldn’t be tracked.
OR-7 was fitted with a GPS collar in 2011.
That September, he began a solo journey across the Cascade Mountains. He headed south and became California’s first confirmed wolf since 1924, before returning to Oregon.
As OR-7’s journey enters its third year, the battery of his GPS collar has reached its lifespan.
But Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy says the agency’s focus isn’t on tracking lone wolves but on collaring wolfpacks.
“We have no evidence that OR-7 has mated, or that he’s part of a pack, so at this point we don’t plan to recollar OR-7," said Dennehy.
Dennehy says there are two packs — the Walla Walla and the Mount Emily – without collars.
And if four pairs of breeding wolves can be documented for three straight years in Oregon, Dennehy says they’ll be considered for removal from the state endangered species list.
2014 could be the third straight year.
But not everyone agrees that this is a strong enough indicator of wolf health.
Rob Klavins of the environmental group Oregon Wild says the state’s wolf conservation plan doesn’t go nearly far enough.
“The idea that the population has recovered when we have four breeding pairs is not a scientifically defensible or sustainable recovery. That’s a long way from recovery," said Klavins.
Dennehy noted one benefit to OR-7 not being recollared: He would avoid the kinds of injuries associated with being recaptured and collared.
Copyright 2014 Oregon Public Broadcasting