RENO, Nev. (AP) - A young gray wolf's search for a mate
apparently won't take him to the northern Nevada desert where the
annual Burning Man festival is staged.
The wolf known as OR-7 came within 15 miles of the Nevada line
near Susanville, Calif., early last week before he decided to head
back west away from the nation's most arid state, said Mark
Stopher, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game.
It had been headed toward the Black Rock Desert where the eclectic
art and music festival is held each summer, wildlife officials
The 2-year-old wolf has wandered hundreds of miles across Oregon
and northern California.
"My interpretation is that he turned back from there (closest
point to Nevada) and returned to a spot he had spent time at
because he knew there was food at that location, and he wasn't
finding it where he was," Stopher told The Associated Press. The
last report placed the wolf in forested western Lassen County,
Calif., about 60 miles west of the Nevada border, Stopher added.
He said the wolf "was in drier terrain that wasn't suitable
wolf habitat and returned to a location he had been at before. He
had no way of knowing what he would find to the east (in Nevada)."
The animal, which was fitted with a GPS tracking collar last
spring, was at the southernmost point of his journey to date when
he was closest to Nevada. That point was along U.S. 395 about 115
miles north of Reno.
The wolf was born in northeastern Oregon but left his pack to
seek out a mate and a new territory in September. He crossed into
California at the end of December, becoming the first wolf in that
state in more than 80 years.
Chris Healy, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife,
said it's good that the wolf didn't enter Nevada. While ranchers
and hunters have reported seeing wolves in Nevada in recent
decades, the last confirmed sighting occurred in 1931 in Elko
County in the northeastern part of the state, he said.
"He wouldn't have found love in Nevada because there are no
female wolves here," he told AP. "He's definitely made a turn for
the good, as far as we're concerned."
Not only does western Nevada lack elk and moose that wolves
thrive on elsewhere in the West, but it has scarce water sources,
Healy added. "He better bring a canteen and a backpack if he comes
into Nevada," he told the Bend Bulletin of Oregon. "There is not
a lot of wolf habitat."
Healy said it would have been exciting had the wolf ended up on
the Black Rock Desert playa where tens of thousands of people
gather for Burning Man, the weeklong celebration of art and radical
self-expression leading up to Labor Day.
At the time he reversed course, the wolf was heading on an
eastward line toward the sprawling desert, which is not far from
the Nevada-California border.
"That would have been so much karma and harmonic convergence
had he made it there," he said. "But he's got to make a living,
and the farther east you go, the more inhospitable the country is