It was only about a month ago that Oregon biologists announced that the state’s most famous wolf, OR-7, became a father. Now the pups are growing fast and ready for their close up.
New photos of the little ones were released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Thursday for the general public to fawn over. The images were captured July 12 by stationary cameras in Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
OR-7’s journey to fatherhood captured a worldwide audience — 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 his lady wolf, where his growing family remains.
Despite the hubbub surrounding the wolf pups, wolves remain a controversial issue in the West. Environmentalists, wildlife advocates, ranchers and hunters have very different ideas of how to handle the growing wolf population.
Oregon’s current wolf program pays ranchers for losses should a wolf prey upon their livestock. A rule made permanent in 2014 allows ranchers to kill wolves under certain circumstances.