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OR-7’s legacy continues with new generation

Famed Southern Oregon gray wolf OR-7 posthumously is a grandpa.

OR-7 [ODFW/file photo]

Southern Oregon’s reconstituted Rogue Pack of gray wolves is back to successful breeding again, two years after its former patriarch disappeared and was deemed dead after nine years as the worldwide face of Oregon wolf expansion.

OR-7 disappeared and was presumed dead in 2019 at 9 years old, and his former mate OR-94 was found dead last August in the Sky Lakes Wilderness Area of apparent natural cause.

But a breeding female believed to be the 4-year-old daughter of OR-7 and OR-94 has taken up the family mantle, successfully breeding with a male of currently unknown origin, said Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Sam Dodenhoff in Central Point.

The pack has as many as five new pups captured on trail cameras and videos this past year, Dodenhoff said.

The pack is officially listed at eight wolves, and it remains in the same Rogue Pack haunts of eastern Jackson and western Klamath counties, so the Rogue Pack designation stays with them, according to ODFW.

But the new Rogue Pack 2.0 needed just two confirmed pups in 2021 that survived into this calendar year to be deemed a breeding pair, according to the newly released wolf-management report for 2021.

It was the first time the Rogue Pack was deemed to have successfully bred since 2018, when the pack’s breeding female was born, Dodenhoff said.

A breeding pair is defined as an adult male and female with at least two pups that survived through the calendar year of their birth.

A pack is defined as four or more wolves traveling together in winter, and Oregon has 21 documented packs. Western Oregon has just the Rogue Pack and the Indigo Pack, which roams eastern Douglas County. Other known wolves are in the Metolius, White River and eastern Klamath areas, the report states.

Earlier this year, trail cameras captured images of as many as five juvenile wolves within Rogue Pack territory that were likely born last spring.

The evidence also included an Oct. 8 short video of two 6-month-old wolves that move into range of an ODFW trail cam placed along the side of a forest road in Klamath County. They cavort briefly, then walk out of the camera's range.

The Rogue Pack was the only successful breeding pair in the western half of Oregon this past year, according to the ODFW report.

Overall, the minimum count of Oregon wolves through 2021 was 175, up two from the previous year, the report states. However, state biologists believe the actual count is higher as not all wolves are located during Oregon’s winter count.

The low growth count was also attributed, in part, to the 26 known wolf mortalities in 2021, up from 10 the previous year, the report states. Of those, 21 were human-caused and attributed to poaching, vehicle collisions and lethal control by ODFW after chronic livestock depredation in Eastern Oregon.

Wolf depredation on livestock was also up statewide to 49 cases, up from 31 cases in 2020, the report states.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com.