Thanks to famed roaming wolf and grandfather OR7, a new wolf pack has been confirmed in the Golden State. Earlier this month, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) posted some incredible camera footage taken from U.S. Forest Service Trail Cams—including the picture above—of three pups and a female from the state’s second wolf family, the Lassen Pack.
Last summer and fall, images were captured of two gray wolves traveling together in Lassen County. Agency staff started tracking the pair and according to local trails cams in Lassen National Forest, they've decided to make California their home. The male is genetically linked to OR7 and the female is now the first ever collared wolf in California—which will allow improved tracking of the pack’s movements.
And just last week, we heard that a fourth pup was spotted in the Lassen Pack. For more information, see an in-depth interview with CDFW’s new wolf specialist, Kent Laudon. It’s hard to imagine more exciting news for wolf conservation efforts in California.
The expansion of gray wolves back into California is a much welcomed and highly anticipated phenomenon. As my colleague Damon Nagami wrote about in 2015, the state has taken great strides to prepare for wolves expanding back into historical ranges. This includes finalizing a wolf conservation plan late last year and a 2014 listing determination under the California Endangered Species Act—see CDFW's gray wolf page for more information. While these actions are helping to lay out a warm welcome mat for gray wolves in California, there is still much work to be done.
Last month, NRDC co-hosted a workshop on tools to prevent conflicts between predators and livestock, in partnership with California Wildlife Services, Defenders of Wildlife, Shasta County, Shasta County Cattlemen’s Association, the Shasta County Farm Bureau and the Pacific Wolf Coalition. The workshop also provided an update on wolves in the state and couldn’t have been more timely, as it happened in Hat Creek, Shasta County, not too far from the Lassen Pack’s stomping grounds.
California’s new pups prove that wolves are here to stay. And it is more important than ever to ensure that wolves and their habitat are protected. We also want to ensure that livestock in potentially impacted communities are protected as well. NRDC, along with our partners including Defenders of Wildlife, are promoting coexistence and non-lethal measures that have been proven to reduce conflicts between predators and livestock.
We hope to continue to work with the communities directly affected by gray wolf expansion and to lay the groundwork for many more pups to come!