Increased Gray Wolf Activity in California

Dylan Cautela |
Indeed he did
OR7, the wandering wolf who made his way to become a star in California and become a star he did! Source; LA Times.

Since a gray wolf named OR7 graced California’s northern territories in 2011, wolf activity has become a hot topic in the state. In the 1920’s the gray wolf had been eradicated from California and by the 1930’s was almost extinct across the entire US. OR7’s presence was the first real wolf activity in the state in almost 100 years and sparked a movement to add gray wolves to California’s Endangered Species Act in addition to its listing on the Federal Endangered Species Act.

In 2013, OR7 returned home to Oregon with a mate and has begun repopulating and creating his own wolf pack, which left California without any gray wolves. A pair of black wolves were sited and photographed in Siskiyou County in May and July of 2015. Further investigation and placement of trail camera’s discovered that there was in fact a small pack consisting of the two previously sited and their five pups. This pack has been dubbed “The Shasta Pack” because of their proximity to Mount Shasta. However, the gray wolf population remained non-existent.

“The founder of the Rogue Pack is the well-known gray wolf OR7 (collared in Oregon by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) who dispersed from northeast Oregon and traveled around northern California in 2011 and 2012 before eventually finding a mate and establishing a territory in southern Oregon in 2013.”

Press release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

So cute!
“The Shasta Pack”, a pack of seven black wolves living near Mount Shasta in northern California. Source; SFGATE.

In late fall of 2015 and early spring of 2016, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) gathered photographs from trail cameras of a wolf-like canid in the area of Lassen County. Additional camera’s and regular searches for evidence of wolves gathered more information and proof that two completely new gray wolves have returned to California. Scat samples have been gathered and sent to the University of Idaho’s Laboratory for Ecological, Evolutionary and Conservation Genetics for further study.

The information gathered through genetics testing of the scat samples found that the two wolves are a male and a female. The male wolf has a direct correlation to OR7 having been born into his wolf pack in Oregon, the Rogue Pack, in 2014 before dispersing to California late in 2015 or early 2016. The female’s genetics analysis provided no further information into her place of origin. The DNA did not match any samples gathered from other wolves around the west as this type of data is limited due to lack of research.

“Dispersing wolves have commonly been documented to travel great distances, and it is possible that she dispersed from another western state. The collection of higher-quality genetic samples may eventually lead to a better understanding of her origin.”

Press release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Good looking animal
Trail camera image of one of the two gray wolves in Lassen County, California. Source; SFGATE.

At this point in time, the information gathered only establishes the pair of wolves in the region with no signs of pups or other wolves in the area. The CDFW plans to continue monitoring gray wolves in California and if this pair of gray wolves remain in the region they hope to collar one or both for further research data.

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