After OR-7 took up with a lady wolf, the two became a hot item, at least among wildlife watchers. And now, the duo have become parents. These are the first pups to be born in the Oregon Cascades since the 1940s.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Pacific released photos earlier today of the pups, although officials aren’t sure exactly how many little balls of fluff Mama and Papa Wolf welcomed into the world.
This kind of news is probably the biggest (or the best) distraction in the OPB newsroom — we went from cooing over the photos to thinking up names for the little guys.
Depending on how many pups there are, we’re thinking: Counties that OR-7 trekked through (Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Harney); unused bridge names (Abigail Scott Duniway, Wy’East, Cascadia … Maybe Lisa Simpson?); OR-7 2.0, 2.1, 2.3.
OR-7’s journey to fatherhood has 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.
Back in March, the Fish & Wildlife Service thought the wolf would never meet his mate and officials said they would allow his GPS tracking collar to expire. But now that OR-7 has made his own little wolfpack, Elizabeth Materna, a spokeswoman for U.S. Fish & Wildlife, says the department will collar at least one in the group. She says that OR-7 will likely be re-collared, and maybe one of the pups, to monitor the pack’s movement.
OR-7 and his lady friend seem to have made a home in Southwest Oregon.
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.
At the end of 2013, there were 64 known wolves in Oregon. Most of them are in the northeast part of the state.
Oregon’s current wolf program pays ranchers for losses should a wild wolf prey upon their livestock and a rule made permanent in 2014 allows ranchers to kill wolves under certain circumstances.
Taking the opposite view, Rep. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Eugene, released a statement about the new family, then pivoted to the debate about wolves being removed from the Endangered Species List, which the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service proposed doing in 2013:
“As we celebrate OR-7 and his new family, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is threatening to disregard science and take the gray wolf off the Endangered Species list. If the Service delists the gray wolf, states could declare open season on gray wolves like OR-7, his mate, and these new pups.”