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Roaming Oregon wolf found dead in Southern California

Austin James, Jr., Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
Wolf OR-93

An Oregon-born gray wolf, which made headlines for traveling farther south in California than any known wolf in nearly a century, has died, apparently hit by a vehicle.

The male wolf -- known to researchers as OR-93 -- was born in 2019, south of Mount Hood in Oregon. As he matured, scientists eventually put a radio collar on him.

He was tracked moving down into Modoc County in Northern California last January and was reported in September as far south as Ventura County.

Young gray wolves are known to disperse from their pack as they grow up, but O-R-93’s epic journey of over a thousand miles intrigued researchers and captured the imagination of many who followed reports of his sightings.

Earlier this month, a trucker reported a wolf carcass along an I-5 frontage road about 75 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says the carcass was taken to the Wildlife Health Labortary in Rancho Cordova, Calif. where a complete necropsy was performed and identified as that of O-R-93, bearing injuries consistent with a vehicle strike.

Officials say there is no evidence of foul play.

Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, released a statement following news of OR-93's death, saying the incident illustrates how wildlife habitat has been fragmented by human development.

"I'm devastated to learn of the death of this remarkable wolf," Weiss said. "His epic travels across California inspired the world ... I only wish we'd been able to provide him with a safer world. California has to do so much more to preserve wildlife connectivity and protect animals like OR-93 from car strikes."

Gray wolves are protected as endangered under California's Endangered Species Act. Federal protections for wolves have been removed, which is being challenged in court.

Liam Moriarty has been covering news in the Pacific Northwest for three decades. He served two stints as JPR News Director and retired full-time from JPR at the end of 2021. Liam now edits and curates the news on JPR's website and digital platforms.