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Protecting the First Gray Wolf in California in 88 Years

Damon Nagami

Posted September 27, 2012 in Saving Wildlife and Wild Places

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Just after Christmas of last year, a 2½-year-old gray wolf designated "OR7" entered California, becoming the first wolf to inhabit our state since 1924. He dispersed from the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon last September, possibly to carve out his own territory and find a mate. Ever since his historic foray into California, scientists have been following his movements by monitoring the signal from his radio collar.

OR7 Oregon Dept of Fish & Wildlife.jpg

Since entering California, OR7 has walked more than 15 miles a day, through ponderosa pine forests, mixed conifer forests, lava flows, sagebrush shrublands, juniper woodlands, and agricultural land. The Department of Fish and Game keeps a log of his movements, which you can find here, although there is an intentional delay in the postings in order to protect OR7’s current location. You can also follow OR7’s biggest superfan on Twitter (@WolfOR7).

Most recently, OR7 made headlines after wandering extremely close to the 63,000-acre Chips fire in Plumas County. Scientists speculate that he may have been trying to prey on animals fleeing from the fire.

Wolves roamed vast areas of California before humans drove them to extinction. Their historic range included the Sierra Nevadas, the southern Cascades, the Modoc Plateau, and the Klamath Mountains. They may have even traveled as far south as the Central Valley and the western slope of the Sierras. Although the Department of Fish and Game does not intend to reintroduce gray wolves to our state, Department staff concluded in a December 2011 report that today’s California could support hundreds of gray wolves.

This native California species deserves our support and protection so that populations can recover and eventually thrive here. That's why we're supporting the Center for Biological Diversity, Big Wildlife, the Environmental Protection Information Center, and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center in their efforts to petition the California Fish and Game Commission to list the gray wolf as endangered throughout its range in California.

Protecting wolves makes both ecological and economic sense. Studies show that wolves play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystems and increasing biodiversity. We've also seen that in places where wolf populations have been restored, tourism by visitors hoping to see wolves and experience “wolf country” has served as a strong economic engine for local communities.

You can show your support for the wolf petition by sending an email to the Commission at fgc@fgc.ca.gov before its next meeting on October 3rd. By doing so, you'll be helping us protect the first gray wolf to appear in California in almost nine decades.

Thanks to my colleague Lauren Packard for contributing to this post.

Photo credit: Oregon Department of Fish & Game

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Comments

Aimee HadSep 27 2012 07:03 PM

I completely support NRDC in calling for listing the gray wolf as endangered throughout it's range in California.
Thank you, Aimee Had, Truckee, CA

Kalyn McCloudSep 27 2012 09:46 PM

Why is he wandering alone, how can he survive? Wolves survive naturally in packs. NRDC needs to find a way to bring him a mate so they can begin to establish their pack. PLEASE.

Joan Salvatore Sep 27 2012 10:26 PM

Please keep a close watch on OR7 !!! Is there a good way to introduce a mate for him??? How can he start a pack if there are no wolves anywhere near him????? Please send us the petition to sign!!!

john blazeSep 28 2012 01:28 PM

Was ten feet from or7. Called him over like he was my dog. he looked at me nicely and kept walking. this was in august. didnt know he was the only wolf haha. I guarantee that wolf wouldnt bite me. tamed and stumped him in the minute encounter.

Andrew OrahoskeSep 28 2012 03:27 PM

Thanks for supporting this initiative. You can action at the Environmental Protection Information Center's website and send a quick message to the CA Fish & Game Commission here:
http://www.wildcalifornia.org/blog/wolf-action-alert/

michael crispenSep 29 2012 01:02 AM

This native California species deserves our support and protection so that populations can recover and eventually thrive here. That's why we're supporting the Center for Biological Diversity, Big Wildlife, the Environmental Protection Information Center, and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center in their efforts to petition the California Fish and Game Commission to list the gray wolf as endangered throughout its range in California

Joanna CroftSep 29 2012 08:05 PM

This grey wolf clearly needs to be protected and listing him as endangered will surly be a start.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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