EUGENE, Ore. - Oregon's wandering wolf OR-7 appears to have found a mate - and might even be a proud papa.
Earlier this month, remote cameras on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest captured several images of what appears to be a black female wolf in the same area where OR-7 is currently located.
The images were found by wildlife biologists when they checked cameras on May 7.
"This information is not definitive, but it is likely that this new wolf and OR-7 have paired up. More localized GPS collar data from OR-7 is an indicator that they may have denned," said John Stephenson, Service wolf biologist. "If that is correct, they would be rearing pups at this time of year."
If confirmed, the pups would mark the first known wolf breeding in the Oregon Cascades since the early 20th century.
Born in 2009 and later outfitted with a tracking collar, OR-7 made headlines when he left the Imnaha pack in the northeastern corner of Oregon in September 2011.
When he crossed the crest of the Cascades in October 2011, he became the first known wolf in Western Oregon since 1946.
OR-7 walked across the state and crossed into California in December 2011, the first confirmed wolf to set paw in that state since 1924. He returned to Oregon in March 2013 and has remained in the southwest corner ever since.
Wolves in Oregon
Killed off during the early 20th century, a lone wolf returned to Oregon in 1999. She was captured and returned to Idaho.
Two more wolves were found dead the next year - one shot dead, the other hit by a car on Interstate 84 east of Baker City.
Wolf packs established themselves during the first decade of the 2000s, protected by both federal and state endangered species acts.
Environmentalists and ranchers struck a deal on when non-lethal and lethal controls can be used against wolves, as well as when ranchers could receive compensation for livestock killed or maimed by wolves.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife documented a minimum of 64 wolves in 8 packs, including 4 breeding pairs in 2013; in 20012, there were 46 wolves in 6 packs with 6 breeding pairs in 2012.