Grey wolf possibly spotted in California, second since 1924

2015-08-05 16:18

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Los Angeles - California wildlife officials believe that a grey wolf has found its way across the border into the state from Oregon, becoming only the second grey wolf to have ventured into California since the 1920s.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), in a document released late on Monday titled "Evidence of a Wolf in Siskiyou County," said it began investigating after Californians reported seeing a wolf-like creature earlier this year.

The department said it deployed a number of cameras along trails in remote areas of Siskiyou County, in northernmost California along the Oregon border, and captured images of the animal.

Biologists also studied fresh tracks in the area and took DNA samples from scat, although the results of that testing were inconclusive due to the poor quality of the genetic material recovered.

"Based on the photographic images and tracks, CDFW biologists believe that this lone animal is a grey wolf," the department said. "The animal's tracks are significantly larger than those of a coyote, and a comparison of the images with photos of an adult coyote captured at the same site indicate the animal is significantly larger than a coyote."

Prior to 2011 there had been no grey wolves in California since the last one was killed in 1924.

But in December of that year a lone grey wolf, ultimately dubbed 0R7, was found in the state and was quickly celebrated by environmentalists who hoped that the species could re-establish a foothold in California.

The Fish and Wildlife department said they had determined that the wolf spotted recently in Siskiyou County was not OR7, which has not been in California for more than a year and is currently the breeding male of a pack in southern Oregon.

"Biologists believe that if the animal photographed on the trail camera is a wolf, then like OR7 in 2011, it is probably an animal that has dispersed from a pack in Oregon," the CDFW said. "Dispersing wolves generally attempt to join other packs, find a mate and carve out new territories within occupied habitat or form their own pack in unoccupied habitat."

Grey wolves, which were once hunted to the brink of extinction, are protected in California under the federal government's Endangered Species Act.

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