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Famed Wolf OR-7 Produces Pups in Oregon Cascades

Jun 04, 2014 02:10 PM EDT

Biologists confirmed Monday that the famous wandering wolf dubbed OR-7 has indeed had two pups in the Oregon Cascades, adding to the endangered wolf population.

OR-7 and his mate have produced offspring in southwestern Oregon, the first pups confirmed born in the Oregon Cascades since the 1940s, the Statesman Journal reported. In early May, biologists suspected that OR7, originally from northeast Oregon, had a mate in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Their suspicions were confirmed when remote cameras captured several images of what appeared to be a black female wolf in the vicinity.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) biologists returned to the area Monday, June 2 and observed the two pups. Wolves typically have four to six pups, according to Oregon Live, so biologists believe there could be more in this litter. Scat samples from the area have been collected and submitted to a laboratory for DNA analysis, which will take several weeks.

"This is very exciting news," said Paul Henson, ODFW state supervisor. "It continues to illustrate that gray wolves are being recovered."

Wolves throughout Oregon are protected by the state Endangered Species Act, a blanket of protection that also covers wolves spotted west of Oregon Highways 395, 78 and 95. At the end of last year, 64 wolves were seen in Oregon, mostly in the northeast corner of the state.

Rob Klavins, wolf expert at Oregon Wild - an organization dedicated to protecting and restoring Oregon's wildlands, wildlife and waters - could not be more thrilled that such efforts are making a difference.

"And here we are with the first pups born in Oregon in nearly a century," Klavins told Oregon Live. "That's a testament to what we can accomplish."

OR-7 must be happy himself, no doubt after his exhaustive famous trek down into Northern California and then back to Oregon. ODFW biologists collared him with a GPS tracker back in February 2011 so as to observe his movements.

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