PORTLAND — An Imnaha wolf who traveled out of his home range of Wallowa County in 2011 may have found a mate in southwest Oregon’s Cascade Mountains.
In early May, photos taken by remote cameras on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest captured several images of what appears to be a black female wolf in the same area where OR-7 is currently located. The images were found by wildlife biologists when they checked cameras on May 7.
The remote cameras were set up by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of ongoing cooperative wolf monitoring efforts.
“This information is not definitive, but it is likely that this new wolf and OR-7 have paired up. More localized GPS collar data from OR-7 is an indicator that they may have denned,” said John Stephenson, ODFW wolf biologist. “If that is correct, they would be rearing pups at this time of year.”
Wildlife officials probably won’t be able to confirm the presence of pups until June or later, the earliest pup surveys are conducted, so as not to disturb them at such a young age. Wolf pups are generally born in mid-April, so any pups would be less than a month old at this time.
If confirmed, the pups would mark the first known wolf breeding in the Oregon Cascades since the early 20th century.
Wolf OR-7’s collar indicated that he traveled as far south as Northern California, but has resided in Oregon most of the last three years.
“This latest development is another twist in OR7’s interesting story,” said Russ Morgan, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf coordinator.
The Service and the Department will continue to monitor the area to gather additional information on the pair and possible pups. That monitoring will include the use of remote cameras, DNA sample collection from scats found, and pup surveys when appropriate.
Wolves throughout Oregon are protected by the state Endangered Species Act. Wolves west of Oregon Highways 395-78-95, including OR-7 and the female wolf, are also protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.
At the end of last year, there were 64 known wolves in Oregon — four packs reside in Wallowa County, one in Union County and two in Umatilla County.Since March 2013, OR-7 has spent the majority of his time in the southwest Cascades in an area on Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website.