'Wandering Wolf' May Have Finally Found Love After Traveling Thousands Of Dangerous Miles
May 13, 2014 11:00 AM EDT
Oregon's "wandering gray wolf" may have finally found a mate. A pair of the species has not bred in the region since 1990.
The wolf, dubbed OR-7, has wandered for thousands of miles in search of a mate, the Associated Press reported. Researchers believe the new happy couple has already had a litter of pups.
Cameras in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest captured images of what is believed to be a female in OR-7's stomping grounds.
"It's amazing that he appears to have found a mate," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist John Stephenson told the AP. "I didn't think it would happen. It makes me more impressed with the ability of wolves to survive and find one another."
OR-7 separated from his pack in 2011. Since then he has traveled thousands of dangerous miles across highways and ranches without getting injured or shot.
Federal Endangered Species Act protections have been lifted for the gray wolf in eastern Oregon; these protections are in talks to be lifted across the country as the populations are believed to have rebounded.
Oregon Wild won a court ruling preventing the state form killing two of OR-7's pack-mates because they were preying on livestock. The conservation group also won a settlement that put more restrictions on what wolves could be killed. OR-7 himself has never been known to prey on livestock.
"It goes to show that when we act on America's best impulses for the environment, amazing things can happen. We can bring endangered species back," Steve Pedery, conservation director of Oregon Wild, told the Associated Press.
The batteries of a GPS collar worn by OR-7 are expected to die soon so researchers set up cameras along the wolf's predicted path. The GPS has shown that OR-7 is staying more confined to the region he is in, which is a further indicator that the wolf has bred.