Wolves have officially been back in California since 2011. And now the state has the first draft of a plan for the endangered predators as their populations grow.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released its Draft Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California earlier today and announced a series of public meetings where interested groups and individuals will have the opportunity to provide comments.
Although we currently know of just a single pack of wolves roaming the northeast part of the state, it's critical that we have a roadmap for the eventual return of these beautiful animals in greater numbers as packs become a more regular fixture in California.
As I blogged about previously, this plan has been in the works since OR-7 (aka "Journey") first crossed over into California in late 2011. A Wolf Stakeholder Working Group comprised of a diverse range of stakeholder groups, including conservation groups and other nonprofits like NRDC, as well as ranchers, farmers, and sportsmen, has been advising the Department on the plan's contents. NRDC has been advocating for a plan that focuses on nonlethal methods and tools that would reduce potential conflicts between wolves and livestock, while enabling wolves to safely return to California, and recover and thrive once they're here.
Although the working group met regularly with the Department over the last two years and has been providing input into the planning process, the members have not seen the Draft Plan in its current form. As such, our NRDC team will be reviewing the Draft Plan carefully and will offer our thoughts in the days ahead. In the meantime, I encourage anyone interested in the future of wolves in California to consider attending one of the three public meetings planned throughout the state early next year:
- Yreka, CA: Thursday, January 21, 2016, 5-8 p.m.
Miner's Inn Convention Center/Best Western
122 E. Miner St., Yreka 96097
- Long Beach, CA: Tuesday, January 26, 2016, 5-8 p.m.
Pointe Conference Center at CSU Long Beach
Walter Pyramid (entrance on Merriam Way)
1250 N. Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, 90840
- Sacramento, CA: Monday, February 1, 2016, 5-8 p.m.
Double Tree Hotel
2001 Point West Way, Sacramento, 95815
The Department will also be accepting written comments from the public until Monday, February 15, 2016. Comments can be submitted via e-mail at email@example.com, and by regular mail to the following address:
Wolf Plan Comments
P.O. Box 26750
San Francisco, CA 94126
NRDC will likely be submitting written comments before the deadline. As I've said previously, the Department should be commended for starting the planning process immediately after OR-7's celebrated return to California, and that decision is looking even more astute now with the discovery of the Shasta Pack over the summer. Please stay tuned for our thoughts on the Draft Plan and any new developments.
Photo credit: Gray Wolf OR-7 (Richard Shinn/Cal. Dep't of Fish & Wildlife)