SAN FRANCISCO— The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported today that four new packs of wolves have been confirmed in California in the past five months.
With these four new yet-to-be-named packs, there are now eight wolf packs known to have established in California since 2015.
“Holy smokes what fantastic progress we’re witnessing in wolf recovery in California,” said Amaroq Weiss, a senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “I’m so grateful that both state and federal endangered species protections are allowing wolves to safely reestablish in the Golden State’s beautiful landscapes.”
The four new wolf families were discovered incrementally this year, with each confirmation demonstrating that, as predicted by scientists, California has ample suitable habitat for wolves.
In March photographs of three wolves in Tehama County were captured on a trail camera on private land. The department is engaged in survey efforts to determine their current numbers, origin and if they had pups this spring.
The second pack, discovered in Plumas County, has at least two adults and two pups. The breeding adults for the new pack in Plumas County have been genetically identified as partial siblings from a double litter born to the Lassen pack in 2020. The department was able to capture and radio-collar one of them.
The third pack, in Lassen County, has a minimum of two adults and an unknown number of pups. The breeding female of the new Lassen County pack is an offspring from the Whaleback pack’s 2021 litter while her mate’s origin is yet unknown.
The fourth and most recently discovered pack, seen in July in Tulare County in Giant Sequoia National Monument, consists of an adult female and four offspring. The adult female came to California from Oregon’s Rogue pack, and the sire of her offspring came from the Lassen pack’s 2020 double litter. This pack’s establishment in this region marks the southernmost location of any wolf pack in California in modern history.
“The homecoming of wolves to California is an epic story of a resilient species we once tried to wipe from the face of the Earth,” said Weiss. “It’s such a joyful moment to receive the news of these four new wolf families and I hope to see them thrive in the years to come.”
The Shasta pack, California’s first confirmed wolf pack in nearly 100 years, was discovered in 2015 but disappeared a few months later. The three additional packs already established in California include the Lassen pack, which resides in parts of Lassen and Plumas Counties and was confirmed in 2017; the Whaleback pack in eastern Siskiyou County which was formed in late 2020 to early 2021; and the Beckwourth pack in Plumas County which was confirmed in spring 2021.
The first wolf in nearly a century to make California part of his range was OR-7, a radio-collared wolf from Oregon that entered California in late 2011. OR-7 traveled across seven northeastern counties in California before returning to southwestern Oregon, where he found a mate and settled down, forming the Rogue pack. Several of OR-7’s offspring have since come to California and established packs, including the original breeding male of the Lassen pack and now, the breeding female of the new pack residing in Tulare County.
The gray wolf (Canis lupus) is native to California but was driven to extinction in the state by the mid-1920s. After OR-7 left Oregon for California, the Center and allies successfully petitioned the state to fully protect wolves under California’s endangered species act. Wolves are also federally protected in California under the federal Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to intentionally kill any wolves in the state.