We have our first good portrait of OR7, the gray wolf from Oregon that roamed into California a few years ago before heading home to look for a mate. Something, by the way, that he can apparently cross of his list of life goals. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service remote camera clicked this pic of OR7 on federal land in Oregon's Jackson County on May 3. Hazier images taken the next day seem to show a female black wolf inhabiting the same turf in the Cascades, more than 200 miles from the nearest known wolf pack. TRhe femle doesn't wear a tracking collar, but the data from OR7 indicates some, um, denning action.
From the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife:
The remote cameras were set up by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) as part of ongoing cooperative wolf monitoring efforts...
“This information is not definitive, but it is likely that this new wolf and OR7 have paired up. More localized GPS collar data from OR7 is an indicator that they may have denned,” said John Stephenson, Service wolf biologist. “If that is correct, they would be rearing pups at this time of year.”
The Service and ODFW probably won’t be able to confirm the presence of pups until June or later, the earliest pup surveys are conducted, so as not to disturb them at such a young age. Wolf pups are generally born in mid-April, so any pups would be less than a month old at this time.
If confirmed, the pups would mark the first known wolf breeding in the Oregon Cascades since the early 20th century.
Wolf OR7 is already well-known due to his long trek and his search for a mate—normal behavior for a wolf, which will leave a pack to look for new territory and for a chance to mate. “This latest development is another twist in OR7’s interesting story,” said Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator.
The Service and ODFW will continue to monitor the area to gather additional information on the pair and possible pups. That monitoring will include the use of remote cameras, DNA sample collection from scats found, and pup surveys when appropriate.
OR7 was born into northeast Oregon’s Imnaha wolf pack in April 2009. He left the pack in September 2011 and travelled across Oregon and into California, becoming the first known wolf here since 1924. "Other wolves have travelled further, and other uncollared wolves may have made it to California," Oregon's summary says. "But OR7’s GPS collar, which transmits his location data several times a day, enabled wildlife managers to track him closely."
OR7 has remained in the southwest Cascades for most of the past 14 months.
Previously on LA Observed:
No female wolves in California, so OR7 returns to Oregon
Wolf OR7 has his first known human contact in California
OR7 crosses highway 395, takes a break
Oregon's wandering wolf enters California