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New Wolf Pack Recognized in Oregon

Jan 08, 2015 06:18 PM EST

There's a new wolf pack in town, and this one is headed by a celebrity.  The famous "wandering wolf" known as OR-7, his mate, and their pups, were officially recognized as a pack by Oregon state and federal wildlife agencies on Wednesday. They were appropriately dubbed the "Rogue Pack."

OR-7 made headlines back in 2011 after he first decided to abandon the pack he was born into in northeastern Oregon and strike out on his own. Experts had assumed that OR-7 was in search for a mate, as male grey wolves are highly territorial. However, OR-7 wound up traveling farther than most - trekking thousands of miles across Oregon and back and forth into northern California before finding a mate last winter in the southern Cascades.

However, despite this roguish behavior, the pack's official name actually refers to the fact that OR-7 and his lucky lady had their first two pups in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, grey wolves (Canis lupis) like the Rogue Pack had nearly disappeared from the lower continental United States, with the majority of their straggling numbers being found in Alaska and Washington state. However, over the past few decades they have made a promising resurgence. Now Oregon alone boasts 46 known wolves as of 2013. The Rogue Pack boosts those official numbers to about 50, with potentially more, according to reports of new activity.

Additionally, there are an estimated 7,000 to 11,200 grey wolves in Alaska, 3,700 in the Great Lakes region, and 1,675 in the Northern Rockies.

And while these wild animals are often the subject of controversy in some regions, OR-7's still functioning GPS tag tells Oregon officials that the Rogue Pack has stayed well out of trouble's way.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that recent efforts to tag OR-7's family have failed, but researchers are still hoping to temporality get a hold of the pack leader himself, just so they can fit him with a fresh tracking collar this spring.

Currently the Rogue Pack and others are protected under a state Endangered Species Act, but those protections could be lifted if four or more Oregon packs produced surviving pups by the end of the year.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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