A wandering wolf from Oregon whose travels have garnered him a following of fans is making headlines again with news that he’s believed to have finally found love after years of searching.
This week officials from Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that they believe the wolf, OR-7, has paired up with a mysterious black female after collecting footage from remote cameras in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest that caught both of them in the same area.
While they weren’t caught together, images were taken of each of them within an hour of each other earlier this month, which led to the conclusion that they’ve paired up.
Transmissions from his collar showing he hasn’t roamed much lately have also led them to believe the two have denned somewhere and may have a litter of pups, who would have been born in April. Citing concerns about disturbing the pups, wildlife officials won’t be looking for the site until later this summer, but if the two did breed, they would be the first ones to do so in the the Oregon Cascades since the early 20th century.
The news that he’s found himself a mate and could possibly be a dad is giving his fans and wolf advocates everywhere a big reason to celebrate.
Since OR-7 was first collared by wildlife officials in 2011, he’s defied the odds and made history while traveling thousands of miles across a modern landscape since leaving the Imanha pack in northeastern Oregon behind in search of new territory.
The same year he was collared, he became the first confirmed wolf west of the Cascades since the last wolf bounty was collected as part of a government-sponsored predator control program in 1947 and made history again later that year when he became the first known wolf to venture into California since 1924.
Over the next few years he traveled back and forth between Oregon and California and was finally given the name Journey after Oregon Wild sponsored a naming contest for kids.
“This is an exciting new chapter in the story of OR-7, and for wolf recovery” said Steve Pedery, Conservation Director for Oregon Wild. “After a 3,000 mile odyssey, Journey may have finally found his mate. And after an absence of over 70 years, the symbol of American freedom and wilderness may once again roam the wild country of Crater Lake and the Oregon Cascades.”
Since people have started following his life he’s also inspired a documentary about his adventures that will premiere this month and an expedition in his honor that’s set to begin retracing his steps on May 17 in an effort to raise awareness about wolves and funds for projects that will support coexisting with them.
While the fate of wolves hangs in the balance as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers the proposal to strip them of federal endangered species protections, their advocates are still working to keep them safe.
Considering Journey’s movements and the possibility that California could become home to a new generation of wolves, hopefully the state will move forward with a proposal to add them to the state’s Endangered Species Act. The California Fish and Game Commission is currently debating how to manage a population that could potentially establish itself there over the coming years and is expected to make a decision in July.
Meanwhile, we’ll have to wait for more news on whether Journey’s officially a proud father.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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