Oregon celebrity wolf OR-7 and his mate are parenting a second litter of pups, and all three of the yearlings born last spring have survived through the winter.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service learned those details from a trail camera placed near the Rogue Pack's den in southern Oregon's Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
A time-lapse video published today shows two of the yearlings trotting and tussling, looking healthy and playful.
While retrieving the camera, biologists came across tiny piles of scat that made it clear OR-7 and his mate are second-time parents. The newest pups have yet to make their on-camera debut.
Elizabeth Materna, a spokeswoman for the fish and wildlife service in Oregon, called the second litter a good sign that OR-7 and his mate are healthy. "It shows there's momentum going with recovery of wolves in Oregon," Materna said. "We're seeing wolves dispersing into new areas of the state and growing more numerous."
There are 77 known wolves in the state, a number that doesn't include any pups born this past spring.
It's unlikely any of OR-7's three yearlings will leave the pack this year to start a litter of their own. Typically, young wolves don't leave their family until they are closer to two years old.
If and when the yearlings do leave the Rogue Pack, they won't have far to roam to find more of their kind. The Keno pair is just miles away near the California border. It's unknown whether the pair is denning with a litter.
Biologists are not sure how many pups are in OR-7 and his mate's new litter, and they may not know for some time. The pack appears to have left their den– a common behavior once pups are old enough to travel. "They have rendezvous sites where they move the pups and the parents go hunt while the pups stay put," Materna said.
Although OR-7's GPS collar has died, biologists can still track his movements using signals from the radio collar he is wearing. They hope to re-collar him or collar another member of the pack later this summer.