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OR-7's son spotted in Lassen area

An offspring of famed gray wolf OR-7 apparently has retraced part of his father's famous trek and landed in Northern California's Lassen County — with a lady friend beside him, to boot.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Wednesday afternoon that DNA samples from scat collected in western Lassen County indicates the single male wolf there is one of a 2014 litter of pups by OR-7 and his uncollared mate.

CDFW says the male most likely dispersed from its home pack, which ranges throughout eastern Jackson and western Klamath counties, in late 2015 or earlier this year.

The DNA from the female wolf does not match any known individual wolves in Oregon, and initial tests indicate she is not a close relative to any of Oregon's current wolves, CDFW reports. Better DNA samples in the future could reveal more about her past, the agency says.

The samples were collected after trail cameras, tracks and sightings since fall 2015 showed the presence of wolf or wolf-like creatures, leading to the scat collection that confirmed them to be gray wolves.

No indication of pups has been found, CDFW says.

CDFW plans to capture one of the two wolves next spring to fit it with a GPS tracking collar to monitor its whereabouts.

The wolves are the second known pair in California, with the Shasta Pack established in Siskiyou County last year.

OR-7 was a young member of northeast 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 in media accounts 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 and 2016, as well.

— Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

One of OR-7's pups was captured on camera July 12, 2014. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service