Gray Wolf Pups Return to Oregon Cascades After 70 Years

Two of wolf OR7’s pups peek out from a log on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. This marks the first time gray wolves (Canis lupus) have reproduced in the region in more than 70 years. (Credit: USFWS)

A well-known gray wolf living in the Oregon Cascade Mountains mated and produced at least two wolf pups, according to officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). This marks the first time wolves have reproduced in the region since the 1940s.

Biologists with FWS and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office have been following Wolf OR7 since he was collared in 2011. The male wolf broke away from his pack in Northeast Oregon and traveled 1,200 miles into northern California, becoming the first known wolf in that state since 1924. Eventually, OR7 settled in Southwest Oregon’s Cascade Mountains in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

In May, biologists suspected OR7 had a mate after remote cameras captured images of a female wolf in the area. Their suspicions were confirmed last week when they returned and spotted two pups. Scat samples collected from the area are being genetically evaluated to confirm the pups’ parentage.

“This is very exciting news,” Paul Henson, a state supervisor of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, said in a press release. “It continues to illustrate that gray wolves are being recovered.”

At the end of 2013, there were 64 known wolves in Oregon. Currently, Washington, Oregon, and California provide protection for the species under the states’ Endangered Species Act including habitat protection, hunting bans, and establishing conservation regions where there is a low probability of human conflict. Gray wolves are also federally protected, however an FWS proposal to remove protections for all wolves in the Lower 48 states is pending.

Originally published at The Wildlife Society, June 9, 2014.

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