It's official: Rogue Pack alpha wolf OR-7 is a grandfather.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed Wednesday that the son of the famous wandering OR-7 has paired with a female, and they produced three pups this year.
The adult female, whose origins are unknown, was trapped and collared June 30 in Lassen National Forest, where biologists discovered evidence of wolf presence in May, according to CDFW.
The following day, California biologists returned to the area for a routine follow-up check on the female thanks to GPS data provided by the collar, according to CDFW. At that time, they encountered tracks that appeared to be from wolf pups, then discovered a nearby Forest Service trail camera had captured images of the three pups, CDFW announced late Wednesday.
The gray pups were photographed playing right in front of the camera, the agency said.
The wolves have been named the Lassen Pack, and genetic samples obtained from scat in 2016 confirmed that the male is one of OR-7's adult offspring that dispersed from the Rogue Pack that year. It is the second known wolf pack in California in nearly a century, following the 2015 confirmation of the Shasta Pack. (corrected from previous version)
Gray wolves are listed as endangered under federal and California law.
OR-7 was a young member of northeastern Oregon's Imnaha pack when he was collared in February 2011, eight months before he left the pack to search for a mate and new territory.
He traveled south and west, becoming the first wolf in Western Oregon since 1937 when he crossed the Cascade crest. He later spent more than a year in Northern California, where he was the Golden State's first known wolf since 1924. His travels were followed by wolf enthusiasts on several continents.
OR-7 eventually found a mate and in 2014 fathered the first wolf pack in southwestern Oregon in more than six decades. He and his mate had litters in 2015, 2016 and this year.
The Rogue Pack's main range is remote forestland in southeastern Jackson County and western Klamath County.
— Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.