It took a bit longer than three years and covered thousands of miles, but a celebrity gray wolf in Oregon known as OR-7 finally seems to have found a mate, in a story that really needs a Huey Lewis pop song for its soundtrack.
When cameras in the state's Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest caught sight of a female wolf in the same area where OR-7 was known to be living, Oregon wildlife officials concluded it was a good bet that the female and OR-7 had mated.
And, what's more, they added, it's just as good a bet that the busy couple are raising new pups.
Wildlife authorities have been tracking OR-7 -- via GPS collar -- since February 2011, when the wolf was just two years old. Born in the northeast region of Oregon, OR-7 acquired his celebrity status when he left his pack and headed south, into California, making him the first wild wolf seen in California since the early 1920s.
Ever since he left his family, OR-7 has trekked far and wide in both California and Oregon in search of a mate, all the while managing not to come to either purposeful or accidental harm.
OR-7's GPS tracking battery is on life support, but he will get a new one this summer, now that he's a proud papa and there will be a new pack to monitor.
There's a reasonable chance OR-7 will get a chance to enjoy fatherhood for a while. Wolves aren't legally protected in the eastern portion of Oregon, but they remain so in the Cascade Range where the plucky gray wolf and his new family live.