Last month, young Oregon wolf OR-59 was found dead in California. The yearling’s venture across the California border may have led to his sudden, perhaps criminal and untimely death.
According to California Wildlife officials, the wolf’s death is under a criminal investigation.
A Wild Homecoming – Wolves in 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. 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.