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California’s Lassen Wolf Pack Welcomes Pups for Fourth Consecutive Year

Wolf Conservation Center Ambassador Wolf Nikai in 2014

California’s only known existing wolf family, the Lassen Pack, has given birth to pups for the fourth consecutive year! The pack welcomed four pups in 2017, five in 2018, four in 2019, and eight in 2020! Beyond proving both fruitful and resilient, as California’s second confirmed family group in nearly 100 years, the Lassen pack’s success shows promise for further recovery in the state.

The eight pups from this year’s litter join their mother, father, and four older half-siblings from prior litters – increasing the family’s size to at least 14 wolves according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

The Lassen Pack and Pups in June 2019

Although the original father of the Lassen pack sired the pups born in 2017-2019, the breeding male has not been detected with the pack since spring 2019. According to CDFW, a different adult male with black fur began traveling with the Lassen pack in June of 2019, and genetic analysis of 2020 pup scats (a.k.a. poop) show the black wolf is the new breeding male.
He is not related to other known California wolves, and his origin is currently unknown.

Congratulations, Lassen Pack! May you continue to make history!

A Wild Homecoming – Wolves’ Return to California

When Oregon wolf OR-7 crossed into the “Golden State” in December 2011, he became the first confirmed wild wolf in California since wolves were eradicated from the state 1924. It was an epic journey for the then lone wolf; he wandered more than 300 miles from his original home in northeast Oregon.

During the spring of 2014, a future long-term wolf population in California was looking likely when close to the state border in Oregon’s Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest, remote cameras captured photographs of OR-7 along with a female wolf, and later two pups. In response to the approaching wolf family, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to protect California’s wolves under the state Endangered Species Act.

Although OR-7 was the first gray wolf to temporarily call California home in nearly a century, other wolves have since followed his lead. In 2015, the CDFW confirmed the Shasta Pack was in the state, a family consisting of two adults and five pups; by May of 2016 the family had vanished. In 2017, the CDFW confirmed a second wolf family, the Lassen Pack, which lives in Lassen National Forest.

In addition to being protected on the state level, all wolves in California are afforded federal protections under the Endangered Species Act.