PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A wolf known as OR-7 that established the first gray wolf pack in western Oregon in six decades has sired at least one pup for his fifth consecutive year, wildlife biologists said Wednesday.
Three wolf pups were captured frolicking in front of a remote camera set up in southwest Oregon by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said Amaroq Weiss, of the Center for Biological Diversity. The footage was recorded in early July and released this week.
"OR-7 traveled 4,000 miles to find a mate and start a family. But this important recovery can only continue if we keep protecting wolves in Oregon and California and across the United States," Weiss said.
The footage was captured in the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest, just north of the California border. The 30-second clip shows two pups bouncing in front of the hidden camera and a third runs by a short distance away.
OR-7 made international headlines in 2011 when he traveled across Oregon and ventured into California, making him the first known wolf in that state since 1924. He returned to Oregon three years later and has successfully reproduced each year since.
One of his offspring has become the breeding male of the only known wolf pack in California. Two of his female pups have also ventured into the Golden State, and one has traveled as far as Lake Tahoe.
OR-7 was so-named because he was the seventh wolf captured and collared in Oregon.
There are 124 wolves in Oregon now after they crossed into the state about two decades ago from Idaho.
Gray wolves were taken off the state endangered species list in 2015. The species remains protected under federal law in western Oregon.
The animals have come into increasing conflict with ranchers as their numbers grow and in the past year, there have been several instances of wolves being poached.