California Gray Wolf Could Be Making A Comeback, But Ranchers Are Opposed

The California gray wolf may soon be making a comeback in the state, but at least one group is opposed to the animal’s return.

Wildlife experts have been tracking a single gray wolf that strayed from Oregon into Northern California, sparking interest in returning the species to the thriving population it once had in California. A state committee is now looking into putting the gray wolf on the endangered species list in California, which would give it the protection needed to revive the population.

“There’s already one wolf here,” said Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s not going to be long until there’s more.”

The gray wolf exited California in the 1920s after the species was driven out by ranchers protecting their livestock. As their numbers dipped in California, nationwide the population also dwindled.

In recent years these animals have made a comeback including in Oregon, which led the famous lone wolf to cross the border into California.

The lone gray wolf, OR-7, is believed to be the first gray wolf in California since 1924, and has become quite a celebrity. The wolf has its own Twitter account and a website that allow curious follows to keep up with its journey.

But if the animal returns to the endangered species list, it would mean ranchers could not kill wolves that threaten their livestock or even chase them away.

This has left ranchers opposed to the plan to return the gray wolf to California.

“Wolves directly kill livestock and in addition to that they can cause disease and other harm from stress,” said Kirk Wilbur, director of government relations for the California Cattlemen’s Association.

While the California gray wolf may see greater protections, across the country many packs are going the other way. Increasing numbers have led to federal protections ending in two regions, with a proposal to life restrictions in much of the remaining Lower 48 states.