Another wolf pack has been found in rural Northern California, complete with pups. The family is descended from the famous wolf OR7, who roamed the north state for several years after migrating from Oregon.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported Wednesday that its biologists have fitted a tracking collar on a female gray wolf in Lassen County. Officials said they’ve confirmed that the wolf and her mate have produced at least three pups this year.
The 75-pound female was captured and fitted for a collar June 30, after 12 days of trapping attempts, the department said. “The anesthesia and collaring process went smoothly and the wolf was in excellent condition,” said the department’s senior wildlife veterinarian Dr. Deana Clifford in a prepared statement. “Furthermore, our physical examination indicated that she had given birth to pups this spring.”
The department said a trail camera operated by the U.S. Forest Service showed the female wolf with her three pups. The adults were first spotted on camera last summer .
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The family has been dubbed the Lassen Pack.
Environmentalists celebrated the announcement.
“It’s pretty fabulous news for California and for wolves,” said Amaroq Weiss, a wolf advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity.
The development could be viewed with suspicion among California ranchers and farmers, who view gray wolves as a threat to livestock. In February the California Farm Bureau and California Cattlemen’s Association sued the state over the Fish and Game Commission’s decision in 2014 to list the gray wolf as endangered.
Jordan Traverso, a spokeswoman for the California Fish and Wildlife department, said the tracking collar on the Lassen Pack’s adult female could help minimize the friction with ranchers.
But she said the wolf population in Northern California is likely to grow. “More wolves will establish,” she said.
The Lassen Pack is the second known family of wolves in Northern California in 90 years. The Shasta Pack, discovered in 2015, is believed to have produced at least five pups. Although one of the pups was detected in western Nevada last November, the pack’s status is unknown.
As for the just-discovered wolf pack, the pups’ father is the son of OR7.
OR7 became a media sensation when he left Oregon and crossed into California in late 2011, becoming the first wild wolf in the state in nearly 90 years. He is estimated to have roamed 3,000 miles in California’s remote northeast corner before returning to Oregon.