Not since 1920 have gray wolves been seen and documented in California. The family of gray wolves was located in Siskiyou County near Mt. Shasta in northern California. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife website put out a statement about the return of the gray wolves in California.
“Wild wolves historically inhabited California, but were extirpated. Aside from these wolves and the famous wolf OR7 who entered California in December 2011, the last confirmed wolf in the state was here in 1924. OR7 has not been in California for more than a year and is currently the breeding male of the Rogue Pack in southern Oregon.”
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife approved a measure that would list the gray wolves as endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act in 2014. This measure seems to be redundant since gray wolves were already on the endangered list in California under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973. Jamie Rappaport, president of Defenders of Wildlife, spoke about the gray wolves in California.
“The presence of an entire pack indicates that gray wolves are back for good, and according to polls and last year’s listing under the California Endangered Species Act, Californians are ready to welcome them home. We have been given a second chance to restore this iconic species to a landscape they had been missing from for nearly 100 years. We must seize this opportunity to forge new partnerships to help wolves live in harmony with people and livestock in their California home.”
Not everyone is happy that gray wolves have returned to California. Gray wolves are predators, and ranchers are concerned that their livestock could be in jeopardy if the gray wolf population increases in northern California. Prior to 1920, ranchers and hunters made it very difficult for the gray wolves to survive in California. Because they were a danger to livestock, ranchers would place bounties on the wolves. Hunters in the area also damaged the wolves’ feeding patterns by hunting so many deer that the wolves found it difficult to find enough food to survive. Both of these conditions are why the gray wolves have been absent from California for the last 95 years. Due to protection as an endangered species, the wolves and their habitats have become more protected which have allowed their numbers to increase in size and move back to their native areas.
Do you think the gray wolves will become a problem again for ranchers in California?
[Image via wideopenspaces.com]