A gray wolf made famous in 2011 for wandering thousands of miles over Oregon and California in search of a mate is now a father. Biologists said wolf OR-7 and his mate recently gave birth to pups in the southern Cascade Range, making the family the first confirmed wolf pack in the area since the 1940s.
Biologists made the discovery this past Monday after following the signal on OR-7’s radio collar, the Associated Press reported. They were able to photograph two pups peering from a pile of logs, but believe they heard other pups that they couldn’t see. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist John Stephenson said they did not spot the parents, but they could’ve been nearby.
“It was pretty exciting seeing the pups,” he said. “OR-7 was probably off getting some food. We saw a couple deer (and elk) legs that had obviously been getting chewed on.”
OR-7 made headlines after its radio collar showed it logging thousands of miles over varied terrain, looking for a mate. However, last winter, signals showed it was living in a limited area, which mating pairs often do. Stephenson said howls from the wolf last April indicate it was protecting what it considers its territory.
“In real wolf country, where you have a lot of wolves, if a lone man is among other wolves in that territory it can be dangerous,” he said. “You can be attacked.”
Local ranchers are concerned about the wolf’s presence. While there is no evidence OR-7 has attacked livestock, it did come from the Imnaha pack, a group of wolves blamed for some attacks on livestock in Oregon’s northeast corner.
There are regulated hunting seasons for wolves in Western states like Idaho and Montana, but wolves in Oregon and California are still shielded by the Endangered Species Act. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife could lift protections as soon as December.