While another wolf tracked by the state has wandered past North Sister and Mount Bachelor, so far the animals have not established territory in Central Oregon.
Originally from the Imnaha Pack in Northeast Oregon, OR-25 — so-called because of the number on his radio collar — left the pack earlier this year and trekked through the Columbia Basin, Southern Blue Mountains and then the Cascades. His movement through the mountains brought him earlier this year through Central Oregon.
“(OR-25) traveled the length of the east slope of the Oregon Cascades in (five) days,” Michelle Dennehy, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in Salem wrote in an email. “It is difficult to say for certain but it appears he was near (Mount) Bachelor at some point. He was never close to Bend, but rather was clearly traveling in the higher mountains.”
Since May, the wolf has traveled around a portion of northern Klamath County. Earlier this week the Department of Fish and Wildlife established two new “areas of known wolf activity,” one of which is the woods where OR-25 can currently be found. The other area, currently home to OR-30, is in Union County in Oregon’s northeast corner.
Northeast Oregon remains the home of the majority of wolves. The animals returned to the state in 2008 from Idaho.
OR-25 is not the first wolf to pass through Central Oregon in recent years. Also from the Imnaha Pack, OR-7 set out alone in September 2011.
Tracked via a GPS collar similar to the one worn by OR-25, OR-7 garnered national media attention by roaming more than 1,000 miles, out of Oregon and into California. Along the way he came through parts of Crook and Deschutes counties.
He has since returned to Oregon and found a mate. The pair set up a territory in the Upper Rogue River Basin, had their second round of pups earlier this year and are now called the Rogue Pack.
Another wolf, OR-3, a brother of OR-7, left the Imnaha Pack in May 2011. He was last tracked that September in the Ochocos. It is unclear what happened to OR-3.
While young male wolves likely leave their packs in search of new territory and a mate, Russ Morgan, state wolf coordinator for the Department of Fish and Wildlife in La Grande, said it is a mystery what triggers them to stop exploring. Possibilities include availability of prey, suitability of habitat and lack of competition with other wolves.
“No one really knows what makes an animal stop,” he said.
For whatever reason, wolves dispersing around the state do not seem to be interested in staying in Central Oregon — OR-25 practically sprinted through the area.
The particular collar on OR-25 sends out location data every three hours, Morgan said. The data do not always make it to the satellite above, mainly due to forest cover and sometimes due to topography.
But the available data show a wolf on the move while in Central Oregon. Morgan said OR-25 was in the area of North Sister one day at 10 p.m. and southeast of La Pine the next day at 1 p.m.
“He was really traveling,” Morgan said, “mostly at night.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7812, email@example.com