Nightly News   |  January 06, 2012

Lone wolf looks for love in California

A lone wolf, one of just 29 in Oregon who heard the call of the wild and left his pack for a solo trip south, is now the first wild gray wolf known to be at large in California since 1924. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> there's been a rare sighting in california , something that hasn't been seen there in more than 80 years. that's a wild grey wolf . scientists have been tracking him for some time. they have given him a name, journey . they say he's now on the prowl for a mate as in "don't stop believing." the story tonight from nbc's kristen dahlgren. [ howling ]

>> reporter: in a way it's a love story .

>> he's looking for a mate. he has to travel because we have so few in oregon.

>> reporter: a lone wolf who heard the call of the wild and left his pack for a solo trip south -- way south.

>> this has been a spectacular journey for journey .

>> reporter: journey is now his name after being tracked by a gps collar 1,000 miles over mountains and highways all the way to california . the first known wild grey wolf in the golden state since 1924 .

>> it's exciting to know that they are actually coming back into the wild .

>> reporter: for almost 90 years the only wolves in california have been like this, raised in captivity. these guys are used in the movies. it seems now there is a new star in town. journey picked up quite a fan club on social media . the contest to name him saw submissions from as far as finland. there is even paparazzi. the only picture of him snapped by a hunter's motion activated camera. but the new celebrity's life isn't all glamour. he set out looking for love.

>> he's probably very lone some. i bet at night he howls, listens. [ howling ]

>> reporter: wolves were reintroduced in the west in the 1990s after almost being hunted to extinction.

>> journey 's trip is only possible because we have strong environmental laws and shows how far we've come.

>> reporter: how far will journey go on his epic quest for love? if he can stay safe from hunters and ranchers, not thrilled with the return of the wild wolf.

>> maybe we'll see him in downtown los angeles .

>> reporter: perhaps a true hollywood ending if the wolf population continues to spread, maybe some day this journey will find true love . kristen dahlgren, nbc news, frasier park, california .