OR-7, a young male wolf from Oregon that has won worldwide fame while trekking across mountains, deserts and highways, was recently photographed for the first time. A federal trapper, a state game warden and a state wildlife biologist were visiting ranchers on private land in Modoc County, the sparsely settled northeastern corner of Northern California to notify them that GPS signals showed the gray wolf was in the area, when they stopped to look over a sagebrush hillside with binoculars and spotted him hanging out with three coyotes. California wildlife biologist Richard Shinn snapped a photo, the first shot of the animal in color.

OR-7 left the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon in September, shortly before the state put a death warrant on his father and a sibling for killing cattle. He is a descendant of wolves introduced into the Northern Rockies in the 1990s, and represents the westernmost expansion of a regional population that now tops 1,650.
His travels took him down the Cascade Range into California in December, making him the first wolf in California in more than 80 years. He has since gone back to Oregon and returned to California.

(California Dept. of Fish and Game)

OR-7’s brother was illegally shot in Idaho.

Biologists know he has fed on the carcasses of deer, dug up the burrows of ground squirrels, and fed from livestock carcasses left out by a rancher. As of yet, there are no reports he has killed any livestock.

State biologists have been keeping close tabs on him with the help of his GPS collar and keeping ranchers up to date on his general whereabouts as the wolf, is a federally endangered species and they want to prevent him being mistaken for a coyote and killed.

OR-7 is at high risk of suffering the same fate as his brother. Many ranchers and hunters would like nothing better than to shoot a wolf. Late word out of Montana illustrates how the reintroduction of wolves, of which OR-7 is a highly publicized part, might play out in the Pacific Northwest.

BEN NEARY (AP), August 14, 2012. CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The federal government plans to announce an end to protections for wolves in Wyoming later this month. Rather than ending years of wrangling between state and federal officials, however, the move promises to spark legal challenges from environmental groups outraged that the state plans to classify wolves as predators that can be shot on sight in most areas.

Ranchers and hunters started complaining that wolves were taking an unacceptable toll on cattle and wildlife soon after the federal government reintroduced the species to Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s.
The federal government’s final delisting plan calls for Wyoming to maintain at least 10 breeding pairs of wolves and at least 100 individual animals outside of Yellowstone and the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming. The state intends to classify wolves in the remaining 90 percent of Wyoming as predators, subject to being killed anytime by anyone.

The state would take over wolf management responsibility 30 days after the scheduled Aug. 31 publication of the federal government’s final delisting rule. The state is prepared to issue unlimited hunting licenses but will call a halt after hunters kill 52 wolves.

The federal delisting of wolves in Idaho and Montana in recent years included action by Congress specifying that the move wasn’t subject to legal challenges. Although Wyoming’s congressional delegation has said it wants similar immunity for delisting in Wyoming, it hasn’t happened.