The Whaleback Pack, living in Northern California’s Siskiyou County, delivered a historic litter of pups in 2022. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed the pack added 8 pups this year, the largest known litter of wolf pups in over 100 years.
The Whaleback Pack now sits at 10 known wolves after the male gray wolf, dubbed OR-85, mated with the female for the second time in two years. With the wolf pack delivering 15 pups in just two years of living in NorCal, they now sit as a crucial part of the controversial reintroduction of wolves in the state.
The Whaleback Pack is joined by just two other known wolf packs in California, the Lassen Pack and Beckwourth Pack. The Lassen Pack currently sits at approximately 12 wolves, while the Beckwourth Pack is around 2 to 3 wolves. It was recently confirmed that the breeding male of the Beckwourth Pack was born in the Lassen Pack, and is a potential great grandson of the trailblazing OR7, who was the first known wolf in the state in over 100 years.
The only other known pack in to live in Siskiyou County this century was the Shasta Pack, which mysteriously disappeared in in 2018. There are currently multiple investigations in NorCal pertaining to the suspicious disappearance of the wolves.
With the Lassen and Whaleback packs continuing the breed in NorCal, wolf populations have reached their highest number in more than a century in California. Wolf reintroduction in the state has passed the 10-year mark, with numbers now up to possibly 30 wolves.
Following decades of hunting wolves in the 1800’s, the species had disappeared from California altogether. After wolf reintroduction into Idaho’s Yellowstone National Park in the 1990’s, wolves have slowly moved across nearby states, including Oregon and California.
Despite plenty of controversy, it seems like wolf populations will continue to grow in California.