The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) confirmed on Wednesday that wolf pups have been sighted in Oregon’s southwest Cascade Mountains. It is the first documented instance of wolf reproduction in the mountain range since the mid-1940s, and it marks the westernmost point of wolf expansion in the Lower 48 states.
“This is very exciting news,” said Paul Henson, state supervisor of the Oregon US Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a press release. “It continues to illustrate that gray wolves are being recovered.”
Just as intriguing is the fact that male wolf OR7 was identified as one of the parents. The wolf garnered fame between the years of 2009 and 2011 when he left his pack in northeast Oregon and made the long journey to California. OR7 was the first wolf to be seen in California since 1924, and he did not come back to Oregon empty-handed. The DFW suspected that the male wolf found a mate during his journey back to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. DFW wildlife biologists confirmed it earlier this week when they took photos of two newborn pups.
One of the biologists, John Stephenson, told the Associated Press that he may have heard more pups nearby, although the parents could not be found. A typical wolf litter contains four to six pups.
Ranchers in the area are less than excited about the new—if very small—wolf pack nearby. The DFW has issued an advisory to ranchers using federal land near the national forest.
“Typically livestock depredation becomes more of a problem in bigger packs,” Stephenson said. “Hopefully we won’t have any problems.”
Although no ranchers have reported problems with OR7 or his mate, the wandering wolf did originally come from the troublesome Imnaha pack in Wallowa County, which was accused on several occasions of attacking livestock. The last DFW wolf survey estimated that there are 64 wolves in eight packs across the state. The vast majority reside in the northeast corner of Oregon.
Image courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service