PORTLAND – Oregon’s celebrity wolf, OR-7 has a mate and new pups, according to wildlife biologists. They've photographed two pups and believe there could be as many as six out in the wild.
In May, biologists suspected that OR-7 had found a mate, after remote cameras in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest captured images of a black female wolf in the area.
US. Fish and Wildlife and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists returned to the Cascade Mountains of southwest Oregon on Monday and took pictures of two wild pups that they believe are the offspring of OR-7 and his new mate.
The pups are the first known wolves born in the Oregon Cascades since the mid-1940s, according to experts. They think there might be more out there.
“There a good chance that there’s up to maybe four or six, which is what they usually have when they establish a den,” said Paul Henson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
There were 64 known wolves in Oregon as of last year, mostly in the state's northeast corner.
Sean Stevens with the advocacy group Oregon Wild said the pups are a major step towards wolf recovery.
“We nearly eradicated wolves just 60 years ago,” Stevens said. “I don’t think people really thought we'd be at this point so, it's really exciting.”
OR-7 has been been looking to start a family since he left the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon in 2011. His now famous travels, maliciously documented in the press, have taken him thousands of miles across mountains, deserts and ranches. He's gone down into Northern California and back again.
OR-7's intrepid quest has been the subject of a documentary and a satirical run for governor.
But not everyone is excited about that OR-7 exploits or the fact that Oregon gray wolves are multiplying.
Kay Teisl is executive director of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association. She said ranchers worry about wolf attacks on livestock.
“We've had considerable depredations and conflict up in northeast Oregon,” Teisl said. “We believe monitoring [the wolves] is very important.”
Despite reports of wolf attacks, Stevens said fear of wolves is exaggerated.
“Some people are still stuck in the big bad wolf mythology,” Stevens said. “That’s really more for children’s books and not for 21st century wildlife management.”
Keely Chalmers contributed to this report