FOLLOW-UP REPORTS: OREGON’s wandering lone WOLF – OR-7 – captures the imagination of a worldwide audience ~ TRAVEL WARNINGS for VIETNAM.

Gray wolf. (Not OR-7) Photo by Retron. Wikimedia Commons.

Follow-Up Reports:

(See November 3, 2011: Lone GRAY WOLF in Oregon travels 300 miles crossing Cascades looking for mate and new territory; November 12, 2011: Oregon Wild launches CONTEST for youngsters to come up with new name for a lone GRAY WOLF known only as OR-7; and November 15, 2011: OREGON’s OR-7 lone WOLF crosses into Jackson County.)

OR-7's trek from Sept 10-Nov 19, 2011. Courtesy Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Oregon 12/12/11 oregonlive.com: by Richard Cockle – A young gray wolf has become an overnight celebrity, captivating a worldwide audience with his epic 730-mile trek searching for love and a place to start a new pack west of the Cascades. The 2 1/2-year-old male known as OR-7 is the first confirmed wolf in more than 60 years to set up housekeeping in western Oregon. He now roams a 100-square-mile region between Crater Lake and the high country north and east of Medford.

Britain’s Daily Mail recently said OR-7 “captured the heart of the American public” with his incredible zigzag journey through the state that began Sept. 10 in Wallowa County. A Google search shows he’s on more than 300 websites, and his story has been picked up in Finland, Austria, Taiwan, Sweden, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Argentina. Yet OR-7 remains a wolf without a public face despite all the rock star glitz. No photographs of him exist because state biologists took none when they snared him and fitted him with a GPS tracking collar and blue ear tags last Feb. 25. “Part of the mystery of this wolf,” said Sean Stevens, spokesman for the Oregon Wild environmental group, “is we don’t know what he looks like. No one’s ever seen him.”

The wolf weighed 90 pounds when biologists collared him last winter, said Michelle Dennehy, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildife spokeswoman. “He could be a lot bigger at this point,” or he may have lost weight, she said. Upper Klamath Lake resident Liz Parrish said she had a stare-down with OR-7 or possibly some other wolf in late October not far from her Crystalwood Lodge near Fort Klamath where she hosts group retreats. “The wolf I saw was big,” Parrish said. “He was dark, not black. He was standing under a tree and his coat was a little bit mottled.”

A veteran outdoorswoman who mushed a dog team in Alaska’s grueling Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 2008, Parrish said the wolf returned the week before Thanksgiving and howled as she fed her 16 sled dogs. “He was singing back to my dogs,” she said. “They sang to each other for 30 seconds or so.” Parrish hopes OR-7 sticks around, figuring he’ll make the ecosystem healthier by keeping deer and elk on the move. “I think it’s a very valuable addition to have them in the food chain,” she said.

Imnaha pack alpha male. Photo by ODFW.

Cottage Grove rancher Bill Hoyt views OR-7 through a different prism, predicting the wolf and his offspring will kill livestock, devastate big game herds and hurt rural economies by undercutting ranchers and outfitters on his side of the state. “There is a place for a wild wolf in the ecosystem,” said Hoyt, the outgoing Oregon Cattlemen’s Association president. “But if you don’t manage them and if you don’t keep the numbers to a reasonable amount, you’re going to run into trouble.” He noted that wolves chased his great-great-grandfather sometime after 1852, the year his forebear homesteaded the land where the family’s ranch now stands. OR-7 struck out on his own from Wallowa County’s Imnaha pack shortly before state wildlife officials handed down a kill order on his alpha male sire and a sibling for attacking cattle. The order is on hold, pending resolution of a lawsuit by environmentalists.

Initially, OR-7 headed southwest through Baker, Grant and Harney counties, then trotted almost due west across the Ochoco National Forest and into Crook and Deschutes counties. From there, he slipped unseen through Lake County, Klamath, Douglas and Jackson counties. He’s remained wolfishly elusive, and biologists don’t know if he’s found a female companion, Dennehy said. It’s possible he’s been traveling with an uncollared female since leaving Wallowa County, she said. “If we observe him, we will be looking to see if he has another wolf with him,” she said.

The craggy, tall-timber region that OR-7 now roams is a mix of public and private ownerships, empty of livestock this time of year. Whether OR-7 remains there through winter is anybody’s guess. Recognizing the heroic elements of OR-7’s amazing journey, Oregon Wild has launched a “Connect with the Wild” campaign among Oregon schoolchildren to give OR-7 a name and draw his picture. Deadline for both contests is Friday. Among the first suggestions for a name, “Whoseafraida,” was offered by a 7-year-old Wallowa County girl and seems to underscore Oregon Wild’s contention that wolves are good for the ecosystem, while big bad wolves are a myth. Stevens believes the state, which now has 24 confirmed wolves, possesses habitat for up to 1,200. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife views Canis lupus more carefully. “Wolves have attacked and killed people in Canada and Alaska,” Dennehy said. “It is extremely rare and has never happened in the Rocky Mountain states, but we advise people to keep your distance from wolves and any wild animals.”

Oregon’s 6-year-old Wolf Conservation and Management Plan has no population goals for wolves, but specifies the state must have four breeding pairs for three consecutive years to take wolves off the endangered species list. Overall objectives call for 14 breeding pairs, seven on each side of the state, Dennehy said. A breeding pair is a male and female with two pups that survive through the year they’re born. Oregon currently has one confirmed breeding pair: The Walla Walla pack in eastern Oregon produced two surviving pups this year, Dennehy said. A single pup was born to the Imnaha pack.

Hoyt worries about the so-called “urban-rural disconnect” that wolves seem to aggravate. He points out that the undergrowth in rainy western Oregon is thicker than in eastern Oregon and wolves will find it easier to hide. “It’s going to be a lot harder to manage these wolves when they get established on this side of the mountains,” he said. Parrish, on the other hand, looks forward to hearing their howls around her rustic lodge. “It feels just a little bit more wild to be in wolf country,” she said. – For additional information about wolves in Oregon see sidebar at http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2011/12/or-7_–_oregons_wandering_wolf.html

Travel Warnings:

Vietnam 12/12/11 cdc.gov: CDC outbreak notice of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. The Vietnamese Ministry of Health has confirmed an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) attributed to enterovirus 71 (EV71). The outbreak is concentrated in the southern part of the country, but cases have been reported from all regions. Cities and provinces with the highest HFMD number of deaths are Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Long An, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Bac Lieu, Dong Tap, Tien Giang, and Quang Ngai. As of mid-October 2011, Vietnam had reported 80,000 cases of HFMD and 137 deaths. As in other outbreaks of EV71 HFMD reported in Southeast Asia since 1997, a small proportion of children with the disease have developed severe, often fatal complications, including encephalitis (swelling of the brain).

HFMD is a common illness that usually affects infants and young children. However, older children and adults can also become infected. HFMD can be caused by several different viruses. Symptoms of HFMD include fever, painful blister-like sores in the mouth, and a skin rash. HFMD is spread from person to person by direct contact with the viruses that cause this disease. These viruses can be found in saliva, nasal secretions, blister fluid, and feces of the infected persons. The viruses also may be spread when an infected person touches objects and surfaces that are then touched by others.

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