For the first time in modern history on a hiking trail near the Cascades’ Mount Shasta, a gray wolf pack has been witnessed since its kind was hunted to extinction nearly a hundred years ago.
The pack of two black adult wolves and five 4-month-old puppies has been captured on film and the screenshots were released on Thursday by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
WOLVES’ HISTORY IN CALIFORNIA
California’s gray wolf was hunted in the 1920s by settlers who killed them off in order to protect stock raising and use their coats. In 1924, California’s gray wolf population went extinct and in 1973, the species was listed as endangered. However, even though there were no wolves known to be in California, last year the authorities added gray wolves to state’s endangered species list.
In December 2011, OR7, another famous wolf traveling from Oregon entered the Golden State and became the first wolf to call California home since 1924. Now, OR7 is, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the breeding male of the Rogue Pack in Oregon. The Oregon-Washington region is home to an estimated 145 wolves in 31 packs.
WHAT TO EXPECT NEXT?
Karen Kovacks of the CDFW says that we should all wait for DNA testing at an Idaho lab, to know where these wolves came from. Her guess is that they are a continuation of wolves migrating from Oregon’s northeastern corner to the Cascade Range, just like OR7.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of the non-profit organization, Defenders of Wildlife says that Californians have been given a second chance to welcome the species to a landscape that used to be their home one hundred years ago.
Even though some people don’t feel comfortable with the idea of wolves living among them, they have no other choice but respect their stay in California since the ESA protects gray wolves that enter the state, making it illegal to hurt or harass them in any way. The CDFW is finishing up a Draft Wolf Management Plan and, as the state officials say, this unexpected discovery will scurry its completion.
However, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife warns though wolves are not a direct threat to humans, they recommend people never approach or disturb them.
The public can report wolf sightings on CDFW gray wolf website here
WANT TO FLY TO THE WOLVES? HERE ARE SOME TIPS FOR THE FLIGHT