Here comes a wayward wolf

  When the lone gray wolf appeared ahead of a snowplow driver on Highway 7 in the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon, it became the state's first official wild wolf sighting since 1946.

Leaving Idaho, the two-year-old female had traveled hundreds of miles over mountains, rivers and highways, looking for a mate, but its days in Oregon will be brief. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Oregon State Police have teamed up to track the sub-adult wolf and return it to central Idaho; there she will have a better chance of finding other wolves.

"It's very unlikely that she'll find a mate over there (in Oregon)," says Roy Heberger of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Boise. "It is in her best interests, and the best interests of recovery, that we bring her back (to Idaho)."

Oregonians seemed to have mixed feelings about the wandering wolf. Some said to send it back to Idaho, no questions asked, while others said it was time to talk about wolf reintroduction in Oregon. "Everyone expected that if the Idaho population flourished, there would be dispersal into neighboring states," says Pete Frost of the National Wildlife Federation in Portland. "But this has been unexpectedly early. Most people just don't feel ready; we haven't had widespread discussion on the ramifications of wild wolves in Oregon."

*Juniper Davis

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