Featured News, Siskiyou

6th Generation Cattle Ranch Under Attack by Wolves

Little Shasta and Butte Valley had wolf attacks in January of 2023
Wolf Depredation in Siskiyou County
– an act of attacking or plundering

By Jay Martin

8 wolves on Martin Ranch September 10th, 2022
read along to the audio version

Little did we know that the roaming of OR-7 down from Oregon would 12 years later become the stuff of ruin for livestock, ranchers, and not to mention the deer and elk populations. It is important for people to know that biologists did not reintroduce wolves to California; rather, wolves are naturally making their way to the state after being reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and Idaho in 1995 and 1996.

“The Spotted Owl is to logging what the Wolf is to Ranching”

The Real Wolf by: Ted B. Lyon & Will N. Graves

Warning Graphic Photos toward the end

Under Fish and Code section 4150, the gray wolf by definition is considered a “non-game” mammal; 

“All mammals occurring naturally in California which are not game mammals, fully protected mammals, or fur-bearing mammals, are non-game mammals. Non-game mammals or parts thereof may not be taken or possessed except as provided in this code or in accordance with regulations adopted by the commission.” 

At the time OR7 arrived in California in December 2011, the gray wolf was considered a non-game mammal and could not be legally taken. 

In late August 2015, trail camera images documented five wolf pups and two adults in Siskiyou County. DNA material found near the site confirmed at least six individual wolves; two adults and four pups of the group1. CDFW designated this group of wolves as the “Shasta Pack” on August 20, 2015. 

1 Subsequent analysis of DNA material collected in 2016 confirmed the identification of a fifth pup

In November 2016, a pair of wolves (male and female) was confirmed though DNA evidence in Lassen County. The male of this pair is the offspring of the Rogue Pack, while the origin of the female is currently unknown. 

Fall of 2021

The brand-new wolf pack that recently settled in California’s Siskiyou County has had their first litter of 7 pups, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s wolf specialist Kent Laudon. The Whaleback Pack now sits at 9 wolves after the male gray wolf, dubbed OR-85, mated with a female in rural Northern California. They now sit as the second known full wolf pack in California.

Source: SierraDailyNews.com

It was a major milestone for wildlife conservationists in California when OR-85 crossed over the Oregon border and settled in Siskiyou County in November 2020. In early 2021, the female was spotted with OR-85, alluding that the two could mate and create a full wolf pack. It’s currently unclear where the female wolf came from. The wolf could have come down from Oregon or could be from the Lassen Pack, California’s wolf pack in Lassen County.


However, any wolf that enters the state is protected, according to the CDFW website.

Shooting at or injuring a wolf, even if is attacking livestock or a dog, is illegal and penalties include fines of at least $100,000 and time in prison. 

Fish and Game Code section 2077 requires CDFW to “review species listed as an endangered species or as a threatened species every five years to determine if the conditions that led to the original listing are still present”. (While the FGC voted to list the gray wolf as state endangered in June 2014, the process for formal listing became effective in January 2017.) Based on the above, this review is scheduled to occur in mid- 2022. 

A published PDF dated December 2016 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California.


Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California is designed in an anticipatory fashion to describe many possible options the Department and others may use and adapt as we learn and understand how wolves will inhabit and use the wild landscapes in California. Until CDFW knows more specifically about wolves in California, it would be speculative to identify exactly which conservation and management measures will be most beneficial. 

The gray wolf historically inhabited California and there exist some accounts of their occurrence during the 1800s. In 1924, the last known wolf in California was killed in Lassen County. CDFW began to prepare for the possibility of gray wolves coming into California early in 2011 by monitoring the news of their recent expansion in Oregon and Washington and increased numbers throughout the west. It appeared reasonable to anticipate that wolves would eventually come into California given the species ability to disperse. 

Since 1924, no other wolves were confirmed in California until December 28, 2011, when a wolf entered California from Oregon. This dispersing male wolf was previously radio-collared (identified as OR7) by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) with a global positioning system (GPS) device, which allowed satellite tracking of his locations. 

Former (pre-European; Musiani and Paquet 2004) and current (IUCN 2012; IDFG 2015; MFWP 2015; ODFW 2015; WDFW 2015; WGFD 2015) distribution of gray wolves in North America. 

For 50 years prior to 1986, no gray wolf reproduction was documented in the northern Rocky Mountains, although it is likely that gray wolves periodically crossed into northern Idaho and Montana from Canada. In 1986, a wolf den was discovered in Glacier National Park in northern Montana. That population steadily grew and by 1994, it included approximately 65 wolves in northwestern Montana (USFWS 1994b). In 1995 – 1996 as part of the USFWS recovery efforts for gray wolf, 66 wolves were captured in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada; of these, 35 were released into central Idaho and 31 were released into YNP in Wyoming. Today those populations have expanded such that the 2014 annual state monitoring reports provided the following statistics (Table 1.2). 

Source: Part II Final Wolf Conservation Plan_5Dec2016.pdf

Following from “Part I Final Wolf Conservation Plan_5Dec2016 cover page.pdf

CDFW has used previously published habitat suitability models to make broad predictions about where wolves might eventually occur in California. The three regions most likely to support wolf populations include: 1) the Klamath Mountains and portions of the Northern California Coast Ranges; 2) the southern Cascades and portions of the Modoc Plateau and Warner Mountains; and 3) the Sierra Nevada. Oregon is the most likely source of immigrating wolves in the near term, so it is most likely that wolves will first establish in the Klamath/North Coast and southern Cascades/Modoc Plateau areas. 

Gray wolves were originally listed as subspecies or regional populations of subspecies in the contiguous United States and Mexico under the U.S. List of Endangered Fish and Wildlife of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

In 1978 subspecies listing was removed, and the gray wolf was listed as an endangered population at the species level throughout its range in the contiguous United States and Mexico, except Minnesota where it was listed as threatened. Between 2003 and 2009, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published several rules in an attempt to revise the 1978 listing for C. lupus in the contiguous United States and Mexico to reflect the biological recovery of gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and western Great Lakes regions, while continuing to recognize the endangered status of wolves in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico (except for the nonessential experimental population in Arizona and New Mexico). 

On June 13, 2013, the USFWS proposed to remove the gray wolf from the federal list of endangered and threatened species but to maintain endangered status for the Mexican wolf by listing it as a subspecies (C.l. baileyi). This action may result in gray wolves in California being removed from federal protection under the ESA. 

CDFW has a cooperative agreement with the USFWS, under Section 6 of the ESA. This provides CDFW authority to manage for the conservation of federally endangered or threatened species, including wolves, within California. However, the agreement does not authorize lethal take of endangered species. If the wolf is down-listed to threatened status, CDFW may have greater latitude for management of the species. If wolves are removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species, management authority will revert entirely to the state. There are no federally mandated population goals for gray wolf recovery in California at this time. 

California Law 

The California Endangered Species Act 

The Fish and Game Commission (Commission) listed the gray wolf as an endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) on June 4, 2014.

Once a species is listed, CESA provides that, 

“No person shall import into this state, export out of this state, or take, possess, purchase, or sell within this state, any species, or any part or product thereof…, or attempt any of those acts, except as otherwise provided in this chapter…” (Fish and G. Code, § 2080.) 

The CDFW is charged with implementing and enforcing the regulations set by the Commission, as well as providing biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision making process. 

As the designated State government entity with trustee responsibility for fish and wildlife resources, CDFW has adopted a mission statement as follows: 

“The Mission of the Department of Fish and Wildlife is to manage

California’s diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats

upon which they depend, for their ecological values

and for their use and enjoyment by the public.” 

This broad direction for CDFW is further guided by particular statutes in the Fish and Game Code. CDFW’s two-pronged mission that requires management of resources for both ecological values, as well as for use and enjoyment by the public, reflects legislative guidance found in numerous places in the Fish and Game Code (See e.g., Fish and G. Code, §§ 1801 and 1802.). Wolves present a challenge to CDFW, as trustee for all wildlife, to accomplish the various policy objectives in the Fish and Game Code. In particular, the relationship between wolves as predators and their ungulate prey will be controversial. 

UNGULATE: A hoofed mammal, such as a horse, pig, deer, or COW,
belonging to the former order Ungulata.

American Heritage

CDFW is charged with conserving wolves in California, and also managing for biologically sustainable populations of other wildlife species, including ungulates such as elk and deer. In particular, Fish and G. Code § 450 which reflects legislative policy to “encourage the conservation, restoration, maintenance, and utilization of California’s wild deer populations.” including Commission policy consistent with this direction. Further, Commission policy for elk is stated to, “Maintain elk herds for scientific, educational and diversified recreational uses.” In the context of this Plan, management related to wolves is regarded as managing the species habitat for conservation, and managing wolves and their prey (specifically deer and elk) to successfully conserve both. 

CDFW recognizes there may be challenges in managing and sustaining, small populations of elk in ranges where wolves may become resident. Further, there is a reasonable concern over predictable depredation of domestic animals, primarily livestock, by wolves as the population expands5

The direction contained in the Fish and Game Code to manage for “biologically sustainable populations” is a key consideration in developing this plan. CDFW anticipates that wolves will become re-established in California. Wolves are highly mobile and capable of emigrating from other western states, most likely from Oregon, and finding suitable habitat where it exists in California. Colonizing animals have and will establish packs6 and reproduce. Although some pups may not survive their first year particularly from first time breeders, subadult animals will disperse from their natal packs to search for mates and establish new packs. At this time, CDFW cannot predict how large a wolf population California will support. Although some wolves are now present, the future for these individuals is unknown. CDFW can learn from the wolf re-establishment experiences in other western states and design a plan that adapts its wolf conservation over time; and relies on the best available scientific information as it becomes available. 

5 In December 2015, the Shasta Pack was involved in a “probable” livestock depredation event. 

6 For purposes of this Plan, a wolf pack is defined as two or more wolves traveling together and using a definable area. A breeding pair is defined as at least one adult female and at least one adult male and at least two pups that survive until December 31.

On October 29th, 2020 Trump administration officials stripped the Endangered Species Act protections for grey wolves in most of the U.S., ending long-standing federal protection and putting states and tribes in charge of overseeing the wolves.

There are an estimated 6,000 gray wolves, mostly in three Midwestern states — Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota — and more than 2,000 in states such as Oregon, California, and Washington.

On February 10th, 2022 A decision by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White in Northern California immediately reimposes safeguards for wolf populations in the Lower 48 outside of northern Rocky Mountain states — one of the hotbeds of wolf hunting — and puts federal officials in charge of managing wolf populations in places such as the Great Lakes region, the Pacific coast and other parts of their range.

 In his ruling, White challenged the rationale for doing so, saying the agency didn’t rely on the best available science or fully address threats to wolves outside of their main populations.

“The Service failed to adequately consider the threats to wolves outside of the core populations in the Great Lakes and Northern Rocky Mountains in delisting the entire species,” White wrote.

Source California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Federal Status in California 

As a result of the sequence of actions described above, the current gray wolf listed entity includes all or portions of 42 states. Wolves occurring in eastern Washington and Oregon are considered to be within the delisted NRM DPS. However, the entirety of California is included among the 42 states in which the gray wolf is still federally listed, and any wolves dispersing into northern California from Oregon are protected as federally endangered under ESA. Similarly, any wolves dispersing into Southern California from the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area in Arizona are also protected as endangered under ESA. 

Warning pictures are graphic ~ Warning pictures are graphic

22 confirmed since November 2021

Little Shasta and Butte Valley had wolf attacks in January of 2023

On January 13th while I was in Little Shasta to interview Heidi Martin a 6th generation rancher in the area and was told a neighbor had a calf attacked by an unconfirmed preditor the night before. In the first week of January, one confirmed kill was from a wolf. So they confirm the depredation to a wolf through DNA collected from the bite and wounds. DNA collected with a squab is used to confirm a match to DNA collected from the scat of known wolves database.

A wolf’s collar sends a signal to a satellite and pings GPS coordinates every 30 minutes leaving a black dot on a map.

Over in Butte Valley just recently 3 kills, and Little Shasta 2 in one day, and the attack on January 12th.

wolves crossing into the state have feasted on livestock, 
a growing financial burden and physical danger for ranchers.


FEBRUARY 2021 Publication

Tools for California Livestock Producers to Discourage Wolf Presence, Guidance for Suspected Wolf Depredation, and Wolf Legal Status 

These tools, and other similar non-lethal techniques, are generally more effective when used in combination. These techniques may also discourage the presence of other potential livestock predators, such as coyotes and black bears. 


Livestock and carcass management, Placement of Barriers, Human Presence, Electronic predator aversion devices, Livestock protection dogs and guard animals, Non-injurious harassment (hazing), and Injurious Harassment Is Prohibited.

Since November 2022, the Table Rock Cattle Company has employed a night watchman and other measures including electrified fladry, and Foxlights.  This has helped with discouraging Table Rock Cattle Company’s cattle losses. September and October they had an attack a week. The wolfs have been spotted in backyards and in a great many areas around Siskiyou County for years. They are dealing with DNA from OR85, to think OR7 was in December 2011. OR85 had 7 pups in 2021 eight  pups in 2020

Tools for California Livestock Producers to Discourage Wolf Presence

  • electrified fladry (a series of cloth or synthetic flags hung at a regular interval along a strand of electricity-conducting polywire). Fladry is a visual deterrent to wolves, and the electrified polywire can reinforce the barrier and help prevent habituation.

The CDF&W has 3 million dollars for meal reimbursements till 2026

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Wolf-Livestock Compensation Pilot Program DRAFT 

Fiscal Year 2022/23 

Is yet to be finalized. 

More information to come on where to send letters and petitions.

A gray wolf in Montana. (Dennis Fast/VWPics/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

Comments are closed.