A young wolf, traveling south from Oregon, has been spotted in California’s Mono County, just to the east of Yosemite, KQED reported last week. Scientists monitored the wolf, nicknamed OR-93, via a tracking collar and watched as he journeyed south into California in what they believe was a search for new territory or a potential mate.
This is the furthest south any wolf has been seen in California in more than a century, officials said. Another wolf, OR-54, was seen in recent decades as far south as Lake Tahoe, but eventually returned north to his original home in Oregon.
Wolves were completely eradicated in California due to their nature of preying on livestock, which put them at odds with ranchers and led to them being hunted in large numbers. While wolves are still protected under California’s Endangered Species Act, the Trump administration recently stripped them of federal protections, leaving them vulnerable to hunters throughout the United States.
The debate around wolf protection and reintroduction has been back in the public recently, as Colorado voters narrowly voted to reintroduce gray wolves in Colorado west of the Continental Divide by 2023. The sighting of this wolf in California is a good sign for those who advocate for wolf protection, as it is a sign that the species can spread and thrive in various habitats such as the Sierra Nevada.