The saga continues for OR-7, California's first gray wolf. Last we heard of him, our hero had found a mate and biologists were eager for news of offspring. Now we have confirmation: OR-7 is father to at least two pups, the first known wolves born in the Oregon Cascades since the mid-1940s.
It's possible that there are more than just the two—wolves usually have four to six pups in a litter. We won't know until winter, when biologists do an official count. But this is great news for gray wolves, as last year's count revealed only 64 in all of Oregon. Even better, just two days after a remote camera spotted OR-7's pups, California's Fish and Game Commission voted to add the gray wolf to the state's endangered species list.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, more wolves are likely to head to California from Oregon, including OR-7 and his new family. "This is the first chapter in a longer story of wolves returning to California and living here in the wild," said Amaroq Weiss in a press release from the organization.
Even before fatherhood, OR-7 had become quite the sensation as he traveled back and forth from Oregon to California. Though he's no longer the lone wolf he once was, he remains an important champion for those defending his species in a critical time of recovery. As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service debates removing the gray wolf from the national endangered species list, OR-7 and his little bundles of joy could be just the ticket for keeping gray wolves under federal protection.