Lake County News,California – Two new groups of wolves confirmed in Northern California

Lassen Package, 2017. Credit. California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA β€” The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported this week that two new packs of wolves have been confirmed in Northern California, one in Tehama County and the other in western Lassen County.

If the department designates each as a pack, they would become the fifth and sixth confirmed wolf packs in the Golden State in 100 years.

β€œIt brings me great joy to see California’s wolves continue to increase in numbers, aided by strong state and federal protections here,” said Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wolves rebuild the landscape and that’s good not just for wolves but for entire ecosystems.”

In March, photos of three wolves in Tehama County were captured with a trail camera on private land.

The western Lassen County group was documented on three separate occasions during the first quarter of 2023.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is surveying these areas to determine if any of the groups had pups this year, the sex of each group member, and whether any of them are related to wolves in known packs of California.

California has three extant wolf families: the Lassen pack, which was confirmed in 2017 and spans parts of Lassen and Plumas counties; the Whaleback Pack, confirmed late 2020/early 2021 and spans eastern Siskiyou County; and the Beckworth herd, confirmed in late spring 2021 and whose territory is in eastern Plumas County.

This week’s report also included the sad note that a year-old Whaleback pup died after being struck by a vehicle on Highway 97 in January.

Late spring through early summer is when the department can determine if any of these wolf families have denned, indicating the potential for pups to be born.

The department will verify the reproductive status of the three existing herds, as well as that of the two newly confirmed groups.

“I’m crossing my fingers that these two new groups of wolves officially become families by having their own pups,” Weiss said. “I also look forward to the department giving these wolf families pack names to reflect their presence and meaning.”

The first wolf in nearly a century to make California part of its range was OR-7, a radio-collared wolf from Oregon that entered California in late 2011. OR-7 traveled through seven Northeast counties California before returning to southwestern Oregon, where he found a mate and settled.

The original breeding male of the Lassen pack was descended from the first litter of OR-7 and several other offspring of OR-7 also made it to California, including the breeding female of the Whaleback pack.

The only other known wolf pack from California in modern times, the Shasta pack, was confirmed in the summer of 2015 but disappeared a few months later.

The gray wolf (Canis lupus) is native to California, but became extinct in the state in the mid-1920s.

After OR-7 spread from Oregon to California, the Center and its allies successfully petitioned the state to fully protect wolves under California’s endangered species law.

Wolves are also federally protected in California under the federal Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to intentionally kill any wolves in the state.