Earthfix
10:53 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Wolf OR-7 Is A New Father

New photographic evidence shows that the famous wandering wolf OR-7 has fathered puppies -- taking his status from lonely vagabond on a 3,000-mile journey to history-making new dad in a month's time.

The images were made public Wednesday, just one month after remote cameras captured images of OR-7 and his likely mate in Southern Oregon.

Biologists set up the cameras in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in Southern Oregon. On may 3, one of them captured an image of a black wolf. It was in the area where they've been tracking OR-7 with a GPS collar. A photo of the wolf squatting to urinate helped them determine it was female.

At the time, biologists said they didn't know for sure that OR-7 was breeding with the female.

But the newest photos of wolf pups released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have confirmed that theory.

The pups mark the first known wolf reproduction in the Oregon Cascades since the mid-1940s.

“This is very exciting news,” said Paul Henson, State Supervisor of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office. “It continues to illustrate that gray wolves are being recovered.”

State and federal agencies don’t disclose the exact locations of wolves, though they’ve said OR-7, his mate and pups are in eastern Jackson County in the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest.

OR-7 has been in the spotlight since 2011, when he left his pack and traveled solo more than 700 miles from northeast Oregon to northern California. His journey has made headlines across the world and inspired social media activities and a crowd-funded children's book.

State and federal agencies don’t disclose the exact locations of wolves, though they’ve said OR-7, his mate and pups are in eastern Jackson County in the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest.

OR-7’s tracking collar has provided information about the wolf’s crossings of the Cascade Range – though that may reflect a larger trend, said Russ Morgan, wolf program coordinator for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“It represents the possibility that other wolves also travel to the same area … OR-7’s dispersal really says its possible, and should be expected, that other wolves will also disperse to that area,” Morgan said.

OR-7’s collar was reportedly running low on juice, meaning he might drop off the proverbial map. But U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials have confirmed they plan to recollar the wandering wolf-turned-father and continue tracking him.

Plans are also in place to collar at least one pup. Two pups have been confirmed, although biologists say wolf litters are typically between four and six.

Morgan pointed out that wolf pups are typically born in mid-to-late April — so this litter is around six weeks old. In the early part of their lives, OR-7 will be the main provider of food as the mother stays close to her offspring for weaning.

Their growth, Morgan said, is similar to that of domestic dogs.

Although the pups represent an important discovery, Morgan said the early part of a wolf’s life is fraught.

“Once we get to the wintertime, and those pups are 9 or 10 months old, the pups that still remain are then considered part of the population,” he said.

Rob Klavins is a wildlife advocate for Oregon Wild. He said it's great news to learn of the first known wolf pups born in the Oregon Cascades in nearly 70 years.

“But it’s also a reminder at how tenuous wolf recovery is –- and how important that we get it right this time,” Klavins said.

“There’s a lot of good wolf habitat in the Cascades and southwestern Oregon, it’s just been empty for a long time. And it’s exciting that it’s now got the possibility that wolves are going to start to retake their rightful place in the Oregon landscape.”

The litter is expected to start dispersing next year in order to seek out their own possible mates.

OR7-Pup.sm

One of wolf OR-7's pups on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, June 2, 2014. Credit: USFWS.

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