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Wild gray wolf returns to California for the first time in almost 100 years

| December 30, 2011

Although it’s not in Yosemite (yet) I thought this story was pretty interesting. The gray wolf was thought to be a pest and, like the California Grizzly, eradicated in the 1920′s. This marks the first time a wild gray wolf has been in California in almost 100 years. What an interesting way to start a new year.

The gray wolf that was wandering in southern Oregon has crossed the California border. According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) this animal is a 2 ½ year old male formerly from a pack in northeast Oregon. Since the animal has been collared with a Global Positioning System (GPS) device that periodically transmits its location, biologists have been able to document its travels since it was collared in February 2011. Based on the GPS data, he is now more than 300 miles from where his journey began.

His journey, in total, has been more than twice that far with many changes in direction. Several times he has reversed direction and returned to previous locations. Today, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) learned that this wolf, designated OR7, crossed the state line into northern Siskiyou County yesterday. Tracking data puts his most recent location as a few miles south of the Oregon border. It is not possible to predict his next movements which could include a return to Oregon.

DFG continues to collaborate with ODFW and expects to receive daily location data. This information is transmitted daily when atmospheric conditions permit. DFG will be sharing only general location information as this wolf, while in California, is protected as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

“Whether one is for it or against it, the entry of this lone wolf into California is an historic event and result of much work by the wildlife agencies in the West,” said DFG Director Charlton H. Bonham. “If the gray wolf does establish a population in California, there will be much more work to do here.”

Any wild gray wolf that returns to California is protected as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

DFG has been following the recovery and migration of gray wolves in western states with the expectation that at some point they will likely reach California. The last confirmed wild gray wolf in California was killed in Lassen County in 1924. The available historic information on wolves in California suggests that while they were widely distributed, they were not abundant. DFG has been compiling historic records, life history information, reviewing studies on wolf populations in other western states, enhancing communication with other agencies and training biologists on field techniques specific to wolves. This effort is to ensure that DFG has all necessary information available when needed, it is not a wolf management plan and DFG does not intend to reintroduce wolves into California. (CDFG)

There are no plans to reintroduce gray wolves in California but eventually their populations will reach here. How do you feel about wolves once again being part of Yosemite? Leave a comment on the blog.


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Category: Environment, Nature, News


About Loyd: For over 30 years I've enjoyed hiking, backpacking, fishing, photographing and exploring Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. More About the Author. View author profile.

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