New photos from a remote camera in southwest Oregon confirm the famous wandering wolf, OR-7, has officially become a family man.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists released photos Thursday showing the first family of breeding wolves in Oregon’s Cascades Range since the 1940s.
The pictures, taken July 12, not only show two pups, but also reveal OR-7’s mate for the first time.
OR-7 was born into northeast Oregon’s Imnaha wolf pack in April 2009 and collared by ODFW on Feb. 25, 2011.
He left the pack in September 2011 and began a rambling journey from Oregon into northern California and back, covering over 3,000 miles in search of a mate.
His quest was successful. In May, biologists announced OR-7 had found a mate. Just a few months later, in June, ODFW announced the arrival of pups.
“This is very exciting news,” said Paul Henson in June, state supervisor of the Oregon U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office. “It continues to illustrate that gray wolves are being recovered.”
Wolves throughout Oregon are protected by the state Endangered Species Act. However, in 2013, the Fish and Wildlife Service recommended removing protections for gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states.
In a statement, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said he opposed the delisting.
“The critical federal protections that have allowed OR-7 to start his new pack are in jeopardy,” DeFazio said in a statement. “As we celebrate OR-7 and his new family, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is threatening to disregard science and take the gray wolf off the Endangered Species list.
“If the service delists the gray wolf, states could declare open season on gray wolves like OR-7, his mate, and these new pups. For over a year, I have fought to keep these critical federal protections for gray wolves and will continue to do so until Fish and Wildlife Service makes their final decision later this year.”