The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has successfully captured, collared, and released two gray wolves in Siskiyou County. The wolves were fitted with satellite collars, and samples were collected for DNA and disease surveillance before they were released back into the wild.
Kent Laudon, a senior environmental scientist and CDFW’s wolf specialist, expressed excitement over the capture, as their previous satellite collar had stopped functioning last summer. Ground capture attempts since then had been unsuccessful. The new collars have already provided valuable data, revealing interesting movements on agricultural lands. This information is being shared with locals to install fladry and other deterrent measures around cattle pastures.
One of the wolves, OR85, is a four-year-old black male weighing 98 pounds. He was originally collared by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in February 2020. After dispersing from his natal pack in northeastern Oregon in 2020, OR85 reached Siskiyou County in November of the same year. He paired with a gray female wolf from southwestern Oregon to form the Whaleback Pack in Siskiyou County. The pair have produced two litters with a total of 15 pups.
Capture teams used a contracted helicopter, capture crew, and fixed-wing aircraft from CDFW’s Air Services Unit to locate the wolves through intermittent signals from OR85’s original collar, which was believed to be non-functioning. CDFW crews removed the old collar and replaced it with a new one.
The second captured and collared wolf was a black, 97-pound, yearling male from the 2021 litter.
This effort, which began last month, is the first time CDFW has used helicopters for capturing and collaring gray wolves. The capture and collar of gray wolves is a crucial management and research tool, used across the West to help monitor populations, understand landscape use patterns, and minimize livestock conflicts.
The satellite collars transmit four new locations to CDFW each morning under optimal conditions, providing valuable data since the previous day’s download. Ground capture attempts to collar additional wolves are set to resume later this spring.