New photos, taken along a gravel road in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, confirm Oregon’s wandering wolf, OR-7, has fathered at least two pups this year.
“It’s pretty exciting that his pack continues to grow,” said Quinn Read, a Klamath wildlife advocate for Oregon Wild.
The new wolf pups were probably born in April, according to John Stephenson, a wolf coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Many of the pup images were snapped in early morning, just before sunrise. In addition to the pups, the wildlife camera snapped portraits of deer, bear, a bobcat and OR-7, with his identifying GPS collar.
OR-7 and his mate produced three pups in spring 2014. The five wolves were christened the Rogue pack — Western Oregon’s first wolf pack — in January.
Images released earlier this year confirmed the three pups born in 2014 survived the winter and are still united. The pups are now about 15 months old and considered adult-size yearlings.
OR-7 was fitted with a GPS radio collar as a 2-year-old, in 2011, then gained fame for dispersing from the northeastern Oregon Imnaha Pack and traveling hundreds of miles across Oregon. He became the first confirmed wolf sighted west of the Cascades since 1937.
He later spent more than a year traveling in Northern California, where he was the Golden State's first known wolf since 1924. This week the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said a trail camera set up in Siskiyou County captured an image in May of what might have been a wolf but that DNA testing on feces collected in the area was inconclusive.
The female OR-7 mated with is a confirmed descendent of northeast Oregon’s Snake River and Minam packs.
The GPS battery in OR-7's collar stopped working earlier this year, but biologists have been able to occasionally locate the OR-7 using the VHF (very high frequency) analog signal it emits.
“There is some possibility at this point that the radio signal has quit on OR-7’s collar. I’m thinking it's probably still working, but we haven’t picked it up since June,” Stephenson said.
Wildlife officials will attempt to capture and fit a member of the Rogue Pack with a GPS collar this month or in September, according to Stephenson.