After the heartbreaking tale of the famous lone Grand Canyon wolf, the first one in the area for 70 years, that was shot dead around Christmas last year, it’s time we had some good news. A pack of wolves has managed to establish itself in California. Whoop!
You’ve probably already worked out the reason that this has got conservationists skipping and squealing joyfully – while they used to be a permanent feature of California’s landscapes, gray wolves were extirpated, or became locally extinct, from the state long ago. Largely the work of hunting under government programs in an attempt to protect livestock, gray wolves hadn’t been confirmed in California for more than 90 years.
But hints of a possible return surfaced a few years back when a wolf named OR7 was spotted skulking around in the tail end of 2011. Dispersed from a pack in Oregon, the lone ranger hung around for a couple of years before returning to its home state and taking up the position of breeding male in a group called the Rogue Pack.
Then, earlier this month, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced it had photographic evidence that at least one wolf had made its way to Siskiyou County. Prompted by “compelling information” received by Californian residents who reported spotting a big dark canid, the CDFW set up cameras in the area and scoured the footage it gathered. Although images in May captured an animal of a similar description, DNA analysis from poop specimens collected at the site were inconclusive.
Stepping up their game, the CDFW dotted more cameras around in the hope of spotting it again, but they got more than they could have hoped for. One of them took several pictures showcasing not one, but seven gray wolves. Five of these are pups (naaw) believed to be a few months old, and the others are adults, one of which was probably the individual spotted in May.
“This news is exciting for California,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said in a statement. “We knew wolves would eventually return home to the state and it appears now is the time.”
The group, which may have come from Oregon’s Rogue Pack, has been dubbed the Shasta Pack.
The wolves are afforded protection under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, which states that they cannot be killed, shot, captured, collected, harmed, hunted, harassed etc. Last year, they were also added on to the California Endangered Species Act. A plan to manage them is currently under construction, but in the meantime visitors to the area can help out by reporting sightings and other info here.