February 12, 2020 3 min read

A young female gray, known as OR-54, said farewell to her pack, left her home and crossed the border line into California to find her mate.

That was Winter of 2018. For the next two years, the lone wolf wandered through mountains and meadows, feeding from livestock for survival.

For every OR-54’s steps, scientists tracked her every movement through a radio transmitter collar.

She went home to her parents back in Oregon twice, maybe complaining for the lack of finding a mate. She also crossed the border line into Nevada sometime last Fall. The journey for mate searching continue on, she kept walking an average of 13 miles a day.

It is a normal instinct for a young wolf to leave home when they reach one and a half or two years old, they strike out from their birth pack in search for mates and territory to call their home.

Like her, OR-54’s father named OR-7, had crossed boundaries in search for a mate. His search took him two years in California before eventually returning to Oregon to have wolf pups.

Sadly, OR-54’s lonely journey finish when she was found lifeless in Shasta County.  Autopsy was performed by California’s Fish and Wildlife Department to investigate her cause of death; she was three years old. OR-54’s travels took her much further south in California than any other wolf since 1924, when the species was deracinated.

Wolves are known to leave urine marks for their would be partners to find. Sadly, OR-54 never found hers and was able to leave information for the experts that there aren’t enough wolves in that area.

Gray wolves are once abundant across the US. Now, they are almost wiped out by the government during the 19th and 20th century. While efforts from conservationist is being done to bring the wolves back, their population still remain very low, in California alone has documented about 20 wolves since 2011.

In a place where a healthy gray wolf population thrives, OR-54 would have been attempting to partner up sometime between December and January and would have been carrying wolf pups in February, just in time for Valentine’s Season. OR-54 should have her litter of pups sometimein April.

OR-54’s radio collar was able to tell experts that she was linked with the death of livestock killed in the place she went through. Sometime last Fall, the battery on her collar began to drain, and the information become scarce. The data in her collar indicated that she was in this one spot this Winter, not showing any activities. Curious, Wildlife officials was able to traced her in a particular spot and there, her lifeless body was found. Many speculations were assumed for her death, but investigation is still in process.

This was not the first time for Oregon wolves. Another wolf in California named OR-59, was shot dead in near the small towns of Lookout and Bieber, according to the Wildlife Agency. Officials put a $2,500 bounty for any information for the wolf’s death.

Gray wolves, along with other animals, are protected by both the Federal Endangered Species Act and the California Endangered Species Act, as per the Fish and Wildlife Department says. Killing a wolf is crime and can be penalized including imprisonment. A wolf’s death is just another important highlight to the importance of legal protections for our wolves.

 

Written by James Miranda

 


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