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Nomadic trek of Oregon's lonely wolf attracts international attention

History-making wolf OR-7 grabs international headlines, refocuses state agency on conservation

By Bill Monroe
Oregonian
Nomadic trek of Oregon's lonely wolf attracts international attention

A radio collar helped Oregon biologists track OR7's journey across the state -- and Google tracked the story around the world.

Oregon’s wolf-without-a-home, “OR7,” may not attain the level of notoriety of a similar iconic namesake, James Bond’s “007,” but his exploits have reached a similar international stage.

OR7, recall, broke from the infamous Imnaha wolf pack, cut diagonally across Oregon and seems to be settling into new digs in Klamath County, said Michelle Dennehy, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

It’s what young wolves do when searching for a mate and a new nest.

Jeff Barnard  of the Associated Press picked up the story, which vaulted to MSNBC, Yahoo.com (OR7 was one of three headliners on its main portal), Washingtonpost.com and several others. In fact, Dennehy’s recent Google search showed it on more than 300 Web sites.

That took it global, of course.

Dennehy’s search found numerous subheads in British tabloids. The Daily Mail said: “Fled home in north-east Oregon in September before state officials arrived to cull pack…has captured the hearts of the American public…Revealed: Amazing journey of the amorous wolf who has evaded poachers on a 730-mile search for a mate.”

Another British sub-title claimed it to be “the journey of a lovesick wolf who has become a media and internet celebrity in America during his epic search for a mate - taking him across most of Oregon despite a 'dead or alive' bounty on his head.”

Well, not quite right, that. Dennehy pointed out OR7 actually left the pack before its father was targeted for removal for repeated killings of domestic livestock. That lethal action is on hold pending the outcome of a suit in court.

Still, British tabloids being what British tabloids are…The Daily Mail ran a photograph of Russ Morgan, Oregon’s primary wolf biologist, on the same page as a story (and photo) about Kate Middleton (Prince William’s new alpha female).

“It’s not every day you see a wildlife biologist pictured next to the future queen,” Dennehy said.

The Italian paparazzi (or at least an Italian photo agency) emailed for a photo or video of the wolf “traveling along Oregon to find his love,” she said.

How very Italian.

There was a telephone call from a television station in Argentina and the story was played in the Australian media.

OR7 may or may not settle in the 100-square mile area he’s used for several weeks around the Klamath/Jackson county line, Dennehy said.

“ODFW hopes that OR7’s journey becomes part of a larger success story for this native species and we will continue working towards the goal of wolf recovery in Oregon.” She said. “We actually have no photos or video of OR7 yet, but if we do get one, we will let the world know."

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