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.

There are more than 1,600 wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains
following a federal reintroduction effort which occurred in the
mid-1990s. In 1999 a single wolf crossed into Oregon from Idaho, after
nearly a 60-year absence in that state. There are now at least 24 wolves
in Oregon in four reproducing packs. It has taken an additional 12 years
for the first wolf to now reach the California border. This particular
animal is exhibiting normal dispersal behavior for a young male and
there is no way to predict whether he will stay in California, return to
Oregon, or travel east into Nevada. Eventually, DFG expects that other
wolves will reach California. Whether this will lead to the
establishment of packs or simply transient individual animals is

Gray wolf recovery in other western states has been controversial,
particularly regarding impacts on prey populations, livestock
depredation and human safety. There have been instances where gray wolf
predation has contributed to declines in deer and elk populations,
however, in most cases, predation has had little effect. Some gray
wolves have killed livestock – mostly cattle and sheep – while others
rely entirely on wild prey. In other western states the impact of
depredation on livestock has been small, less than predation by coyotes
and mountain lions, although the effect on an individual livestock
producer can be important, particularly when sheep are killed.

Concerns about human safety are largely based on folklore and are
unsubstantiated in North America. In recent years there was one human
mortality in Canada caused either by wolves or bears and one confirmed
human mortality in Alaska by wolves. Based on experience from states
where substantial wolf populations now exist, wolves pose little risk to
humans. However, DFG recommends that people never approach a wolf, or
otherwise tamper with or feed a wolf. More about how to avoid
human-wildlife interactions can be found on DFG’s website at


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