This endangered wolf traveled nearly 9,000 miles to find love. She was found dead.

2020-02-10 12:45:24

OR-54 when she was 1.5 years old.
OR-54 when she was 1.5 years old.

After nearly three years on her own journey – one that found her traveling across state lines – a female gray wolf was found dead.

The wolf, known as OR-54, was only about 3 or 4 years old when she was found dead last week in Shasta County, California, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

OR-54 was first found in Oregon in 2017 when Fish and Wildlife Service officials in Oregon tagged her with a radio collar to “monitor population growth and wolf behavior” for the endangered species.

She was a member of the “Rogue Pack,” the first pack of wolves found in Western Oregon and Northern California since they were mostly eradicated in the area in the last century.

She was tracked traversing through California, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife – making the occasional trip back to Oregon and briefly crossing into Nevada territory. OR-54, according to the fish and wildlife agency, traveled farther south into California than any other gray wolf since wolves were found in the state in 2011.

The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that OR-54 traveled more than 8,712 miles upon entering California.

She probably was scouting for mates, officials said. According to the Washington-based organization Western Wildlife Outreach, wolves start their mating process at 2 or 3 years old and keep their mates for life.

Her father, OR-7, famously entered Northern California in search of a mate, fathering the “Rogue Pack.” His presence helped spark legislation in California to designate the gray wolf an endangered species.

The gray wolf is protected by California and Oregon’s state endangered species laws and the federal Endangered Species Act.

Gray wolves, however, have proven to be a source of frustration for the livestock industry. In 2017, a relative of the Rogue Pack family known as OR-33 died from gunshot wounds after it was blamed for having killed and injured goats and sheep.

A proposal last year would have removed the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act, but it has not been enacted.

“OR-54 was a beacon of hope who showed that wolves can return and flourish here,” said Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity in a statement. “Her death is devastating, no matter the cause.”

Contributing: Danielle Jester, Siskiyou Daily News; Zach Urness, Salem Statesman Journal. Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gray wolf: Endangered species dead after traveling 8,712 miles to mate

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