OR7, the famous lone wolf of the west, may be starting a pack of his own.
The wandering wolf made headlines back in 2011 when he travelled from Oregon to California, becoming the first gray wolf in the sunshine state since 1924.
Since then, he’s been roaming northern California and the southern Oregon cascades with a radio collar attached to his neck. Researchers were ready to give up on tracking him, until last March when they made a surprising discovery.
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According to National Geographic, researchers captured images of OR7 and a female wolf on a remote trail camera in Jackson County Oregon.
Fish and Wildlife biologist John Stephenson said he thinks OR7 and his lady friend might already have pups in a den nearby, considering the two were spotted in March.
“That’s the breeding season,” Stephenson said. “So we were curious. But we always felt it was a real long shot that a female wolf would find him.”
If OR7 is indeed starting a pack, it means that gray wolves are beginning to reestablish themselves in southern Oregon, a region thought to be devoid of gray wolves.
Nobody knows where OR7’s mate came from, but if she roamed west into the region like OR7 did, it could mean more wild wolves are recolonizing the region.
That also means communities may have to start thinking about managing wolf populations in the coming years.
There are currently 64 wolves in eastern Oregon, and 52 in Washington, but they are not federally protected. Gray wolves in the western Great Lakes states and northern Rockies are listed as threatened and endangered species.