California's only known wild wolf, it seems, has found some coyote pals with which to range the wilderness.
The male gray wolf, named OR7 because he hails from Oregon and is famous for his remarkable journey across the state to California, was photographed Tuesday by Richard Shinn.
Shinn, a wildlife biologist, was part of a group that was visiting Modoc County ranchers to let them know that OR7, which is wearing a GPS tracking unit, was in the vicinity.
Shinn, a federal trapper and a state game warden did not expect to see OR7, but when they stopped to peer beyond a hillside with binoculars, the wolf revealed his presence.
"There, all of a sudden, out pops a head, and here he is," Karen Kovacs, of the California Department of Fish and Game, told the Associated Press. "He appeared very healthy."
In the same area were several coyotes.
OR7, who is nearly 3 years old and first entered California on Dec. 28, is at the age where he should be looking for a mate. Unfortunately, it's extremely unlikely that he'll find another wolf in California.
Shinn's photograph, taken from a distance of about 100 yards, is the only color image that shows OR7. A trail camera, last Nov. 1 in southern Oregon, captured a black-and-white image of what's believed to be OR7.
-- Image showing OR7 is courtesy of Richard Shinn