Is There a Brand-New Wolfpack in Northern California? Photos Show Unidentified Wolves in Sierra Foothills.

Trail cam photo of the new wolves spotted in Tehama County. Photo by Brian Baly

State officials are working to gather more information after receiving indirect reports and images of what seem to be wolves in eastern Tehama County’s foothills. Peter Tira, a spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, mentioned that sightings of these wolves began on Sunday, with evidence suggesting the presence of three wolves in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Tehama County.

Tira stated on Friday that it would take a considerable amount of time to learn more about this specific group, which could eventually lead to radio collaring for long-term monitoring. The task of acquiring further details about these wolves is challenging due to the remote location and limited access to the area where they were spotted. Additionally, wolves are known to roam vast territories.

Amaroq Weiss, a senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, expressed her delight at the potential presence of a new wolf pack in California. She said, “This is incredible news for wolf recovery in California. These beautiful newcomers are proving that California has a lot of great habitat for wolves, as scientists have said all along.” Gray wolves are an endangered species and were once native to the Golden State, but by the 1920s, they had been eradicated from California.

A wolf from the Lassen Pack

The situation shifted in December 2011 when gray wolf OR-7 migrated from northeast Oregon to California over approximately four months. He traversed several North State counties, including Siskiyou, Tehama, Shasta, and Butte, averaging over 15 miles per day. There are currently three known wolf packs in the state: the Lassen pack with six wolves, the Whaleback pack with 11 wolves, and the Beckwourth pack with at least one wolf, as per the state’s most recent wolf management update.

One young wolf, OR-93, traveled as far south as Kern County before being struck and killed by a car near Interstate 5 in November 2021. The Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that the radio-collared wolf was found dead on Nov. 10 near the town of Lebec. The collar and an investigation, along with necropsy results, confirmed that OR-93 died from trauma consistent with a vehicle collision.

Recently, state wildlife officials captured, collared, and released two gray wolves in Siskiyou County, including a four-year-old wolf that also migrated to California from northeast Oregon. Capturing and collaring wolves allows wildlife officials to monitor wolf populations and minimize conflicts with livestock, according to the department.

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