OR7 – the famous lone wolf of the west – is now a dad.
The once wayward grey wolf is fathering pups in the Southern Oregon Cascade range, announced state wildlife officials on Wednesday.
RELATED: Learn more about OR7’s back story.
Back in May, wildlife biologists captured trail camera pictures of OR7 and a wolf they believed to be his mate in the Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest.
On Monday, biologists returned to the scene and found these little guys under a pile of timber.
OR7 and his mate were nowhere to be found, but biologists think mom and dad were nearby getting food. Biologists found a few chewed deer and elk legs near the timber pile.
The news of the OR7’s pups is significant, because it is the farthest west a wolf pack has established since the 1990’s, when wolves were reintroduced to the rocky mountains.
OR7 and his mate are the first wolves to breed in Oregon since the 1940’s.
“This is very exciting news,” said Paul Henson of the state Fish and Wildlife. “It continues to illustrate that gray wolves are being recovered.”
Wolves in Oregon are protected by the Endangered Species Act. According to Associated Press, state wildlife officials will decide in December on a proposal to lift their protection.
There are an estimated 64 wild wolves living in Oregon. Most of them live in the northeastern reaches of the state.
Aside from OR7’s new pack, there are no other known wolves living or breeding in southern Oregon.
Will OR7’s pack thrive and restore wolves to a region? That’s a question we’re interested to find out.
Do you think wolves should be delisted in Oregon? How do you think they should be managed. Share your ideas in the comments section below.
Featured image via Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife