Marking only the second confirmed wolf pack in the state of California since the animals were extirpated back in the 1920’s, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists have confirmed the newly-minted Lassen Wolf Pack in the northeastern region of the state.
After capturing images of a pair of wolves during the summer and fall of 2016 in Lassen County, state biologists were interested in uncovering more information about the origins of the animals in the area. After examining genetic samples from scat, they could pinpoint the male’s origin to Oregon’s Rogue Pack.
Fast forward to May of this year when a partnership was formed between CDFW and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) biologists once again found signs of wolf presence in the Lassen National Forest. Biologists immediately initiated a collaring initiative and after 12 days of trapping attempts, they finally were able to capture the 75-pound adult female.
“The anesthesia and collaring process went smoothly and the wolf was in excellent condition,” said CDFW’s Senior Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Deana Clifford. “Furthermore, our physical examination indicated that she had given birth to pups this spring.”
With this information in hand, biologists returned to the field to monitor the female’s progress when they noticed what appeared to be the tracks of wolf pups. Checking on a nearby trail camera operated by the USFS, photos produced the confirmation of both the female and her three pups.
With her tracking collar, the female wolf will unknowingly provide biologists with pertinent data regarding her movements, reproduction and prey preferences. Officials are hopeful that the collaring project will also alert them when the animals move into livestock and ranching properties, allowing them to hopefully mitigate wolf-livestock conflicts.
Gray wolves are currently both state and federally listed as endangered. Their management in California is guided by endangered species laws as well as CDFW’s Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California, finalized in 2016. CDFW’s goals for wolf management in California include conserving wolves and minimizing impacts to livestock producers and native ungulates.
Photos: U.S. Forest Service/California Department of Fish and Wildlife