Grey wolf pack near Mt. Shasta in Siskiyou County, CA.
© California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Two all-black adult wolves and five 4-month-old pups have been photographed near the Cascades’ Mount Shasta. It’s the first time in nearly a century that a gray wolf pack has been seen in the state.
Trail cameras first spotted a suspected gray wolf in May and June and biologists set out to retrieve scat samples and set up additional cameras, wildlife authorities said. Two adult wolves were then captured on film. The whole pack was confirmed on Aug. 9.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released photos Thursday showing the wolves — dubbed the Shasta Pack — in rural Siskiyou County.
“This is an Endangered Species Act success story in the making,” Pamela Flick, with the Defenders of Wildlife told the San Jose Mercury News.
California’s gray wolf population was thought to be wiped out in the 1920s. As a result, the species was listed as endangered in 1973 and, although California had no known gray wolves left, the state declared them endangered just last year.
The recent sighting comes a few years after a lone gray wolf, known as OR-7, wandered some 200 miles from Oregon’s wilderness to California’s Cascades. He has since gone back home and found a mate.
But it marked the first time in a century that biologists had seen one in the state and it prompted state wildlife authorities to start working on a management plan to help them repopulate, assuming the species would start to make its way south again. That said, biologists didn’t expect a resurgence so soon.
“They have beat us to the punch on a couple of occasions now,” California’s wildlife branch chief Eric Loft told the Sacramento Bee.
The adult wolves are suspected to be from Oregon but wildlife authorities do not believe they are descended from OR-7, the one that wandered into California in 2011. DNA samples have been sent to a lab in Idaho to determine where the clan came from.
Wildlife authorities are now trying to finalize the management plan, though it won’t be in force until the end of the year, said Karen Kovacs with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.