They’re back! Sadly, there hasn’t been a wolf living in the entire state of California since 1924, but that all changed this month after the California Department of Fish and Wildlife captured footage of a family of gray wolves – two parents and five pups – on trails in Siskiyou County in the northern part of the state. The “Shasta” pack’s pups are thought to be about four months old and are happily settling into their new home, and experts hope that this is just the beginning of the return of the majestic animal to the state.
Wolves are indigenous to California, but were killed or driven off in the early 1900s. Originally, there was speculation that this newest might be descendents of OR-7, an Oregonian wolf who was seen in California about four years ago and has since returned to his state to form his own pack, but this is not the case. These pups appear to be the offspring of a new wolf spotted on trail cameras in May.
Eric Loft, chief of the CDFW’s Wildlife Branch, stated “We were really excited, if not amazed” at how quickly these wolves settled in and started reproducing. Gray wolves are considered endangered by both the California Endangered Species Act, as of 2014, and the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, making it illegal to cause harm or capture the rare mammals.
The state hopes to keep updated data on gray wolf sightings, not only through the use of trail cameras, but also via reports by residents. It is strongly advised that the wolves should not be approached if sighted, however, both for the safety of the wolves and the observers.
Images via California Department of Fish and Wildlife