Wolves In California: First Wolf Pack Discovered In The State In Nearly A Century

There are wolves in California again after nearly a century, according to a Thursday report by USA Today.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife published photos on its website Thursday showing a wolf pack comprising five pups and a pair of adults in Siskiyou County. State officials are now calling the family the “Shasta Pack” on account of its proximity to Mount Shasta in Weed, California. CDFW is now in the process of completing a Draft Wolf Management Plan and is planning on releasing it soon.

State biologists suspect that one of the adults shown in the photos is the same wolf sighted in spring this year. The discovery also confirms speculations that wolves are starting to repopulate California once again since the species were exterminated in the area in 1920. Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton Bonham expressed his excitement in a prepared statement.

This news is exciting for California. We knew wolves would eventually return home to the state, and it appears now is the time.

However, there are some who fear that having wolves in California again may have dire consequences, as reported in Inquisitr over a year ago.

Mary and Jim Rickert, owners of Prather Ranch in the Siskiyou County, expressed concern about the possibility of the wolves killing their livestock, of which many can be found grazing in Siskiyou, Shasta, and Tehama. To offset the threat to their livelihoods, the couple proposed to state officials that a special fund be set up to compensate ranchers for possible wolf kills.

“If the public wants wolves,” Jim Rickert said, “maybe they should support the people that are helping feed the wolves.”

Karen Kovacs of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said that the pack so far has left the livestock grazing the area alone. Supporters also pointed out that the killing of livestock in other states is nearly non-existent. Some even offered practical solutions and reimbursement programs to compensate for possible losses to ranchers.

Historical records show that wolves lived in California for thousands of years before they were decimated in the area in the early 1900’s, which is why excitement ensued in the state when OR7 (also called Journey) was found wandering northeastern California in December 2011. State biologists suspect that OR7 left his pack in northeastern Oregon to find a mate. He then wandered northeastern California for more than a thousand miles before returning to Oregon near the Californian border in March 2013.

OR7 has not returned to California in over a year and is now the alpha male of the Rogue Pack in southern Oregon. Kovacs said that an Idaho lab is now testing DNA samples from the new pack to determine if they are in any way related to OR7 and in order to trace their bloodlines.

According to The Sacramento Bee, Kovacs further added that they haven’t set up a definitive wolf population goal yet and are still finalizing the amount of wolves in California the state’s habitat can currently support.

[Photo from California Department of Fish and Wildlife]