Many of you may have heard the news last month that OR-7 — Oregon’s wandering wolf — had been spotted hanging out with a female wolf in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in Southern Oregon. Those reports garnered hope that perhaps the pair would mate. Well, this week the news broke that wolf pups have been spotted. These are the first wolf pups confirmed to be born in the Oregon Cascades since the 1940’s.
Wolves in Oregon are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Except for OR-7, most known wolves in Oregon are in the northeast corner of the state. OR-7 became famous for its 3,000+ mile journey away from its original pack. But we know that it is not unusual for wolves to travel long distances. Another Oregon wolf was not so lucky in its journey. We also got news this week that a wolf originally tagged as part of Oregon’s Snake River pack was found illegally killed in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. These two stories illustrate the difficult balance to strike in wolf management, between fostering recovery of populations and addressing cultural values about wolves.
At Crag we continue our work to protect wolves in Southeast Alaska. There, harsh winters mean that deer (the wolf’s main prey) struggle to find food. Old growth stands provide areas where food is more accessible and not as deeply buried by snow. In an example of the complexity of our ecosystem, the deer need the forest, and the wolf needs the deer. One cannot sustain if the other does not survive. You can read more about our work to protect the Alexander Archipelago wolf in our most recent newsletter.
In the face of all these challenges, it is hopeful to see evidence of nature’s tenacity. I look forward to following the story of these new Oregon wolf pups, and hope that they will help us all better understand the role this species can play in our culture and ecosystem. Doesn’t everyone love puppies?