Oregon's wandering wolf's lonely days are far behind after biologists found evidence that OR-7's Rogue Pack has expanded by a second set of pups.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released a video from trail cameras Tuesday that shows the yearling wolves playing in the Cascades east of Medford, which ODFW shared on its Oregon Wildlife Viewing Facebook page.
A remote camera captured this series of images of Rogue Pack wolf yearlings (born spring 2014) playing in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest on June 24, 2015. While new pups have not yet been seen, wildlife biologists found pup scat in the area, which confirms the pack has new pups this year. Images courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Trail cameras in Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest captured the first images of OR-7's first litter of pups last summer.
Wildlife officials say it's common for wolves to have pups each season.
"It's not surprising that they've had pups a couple of years in a row," says Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife State wolf coordinator Russ Morgan. "That doesn't necessarily mean that it's a successful reproductive attempt for this year. There's still a lot of year to go before we know if those pups are also recruited into the adult population."
OR-7’s journey to fatherhood captured a worldwide audience a few years ago — the wolf broke away from his pack in Northeast Oregon in 2011 and covered 1,200 miles across the state and into Northern California. When he crossed the border, OR-7 became the first known, free-roaming wolf in California since the 1920s.
OR-7 came back to Oregon and settled in the southwest region with a female wolf, where his growing family remains. By fathering last year's pups, the group of wolves became the first pack in southwestern Oregon in more than six decades.
This fall, Oregon will consider removing gray wolves from the state endangered species list. According to the state, there are at least 77 individual wolves in Oregon in 16 different packs.
AP contributed to this report.
Editor's note: This story was updated to clarify that the video and stills are of the wolf yearlings.