Last month, the first wild wolf recorded in California in ninety years made a quick return to the Golden State. The wolf’s story was the subject of a feature by Joe Donnelly in the September/October 2013 issue of Orion.
The lone gray wolf known to scientists as OR7—and to anthropomorphically inclined fans as Journey—has sealed his reputation for the dramatic, or at least the symbolic, by crossing back to California for a couple of visits in December.
The large male wolf made a return appearance to the happy hunting ground where he spent all of 2012 and the first few months of 2013. And he arrived just in time to shine a spotlight on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s long-simmering petition to protect gray wolves under the California Endangered Species Act.
Some brief backstory: When intrepid OR7 first made it to California, right around this time in 2011, he didn’t just add a milestone to his remarkable trek south from remote Wallowa County in northeast Oregon—he also enlisted California in the cultural and political civil war that’s been chasing wolves across the West ever since their successful mid-1990s reintroduction into the Northern Rockies. That OR7 happened to spend a significant amount of time sniffing around Lassen County, where the last indigenous Californian gray wolf was killed for a bounty in 1924, added a touch of poetry to OR7’s journey.