New gray wolf spotted in Northern California

Call him OR-x?

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Monday it has been investigating sightings in the Siskiyou County forest lands of what appears to be another lone gray wolf visiting the state's far north. After reports of a wolf being seen, the department put out trail cameras — and in May first spotted something that sure looks to wildlife officials like a wolf. A more recent snapshot led the officials to conclude, yes, it's a gray wolf. Remember, there aren't supposed to be any gray wolves in California. That's why the adventures of Oregon gray wolf OR-7 a few years ago attracted so much attention. Gray wolves are listed on the federal endangered species list.


From Fish and Wildlife:

At one location, in early May, images were captured of a large, dark-colored, lone canid, which is possibly a dispersing gray wolf. Although scat was collected in the area for genetic analysis, they yielded poor-quality DNA and results were inconclusive. Since then, no other images of a large canid have been captured at this location.

In early June, CDFW biologists came across large canid tracks on a dirt road in a separate, remote location of Siskiyou County, while searching for fawns as part of an ongoing deer study. The tracks were fresh and were from a single animal. Some were within the tire tread marks made from a CDFW vehicle the day before. Assumptions based on the track's size, linear nature and distance, compelled CDFW staff to place a trail camera to remotely capture images of subsequent animal activity along the roadway.

On July 24, CDFW downloaded a series of images from that camera taken the previous week, revealing a large, dark-colored canid. Although other wildlife species and a few passing vehicles were also photographed, there were no images of domestic dogs or other human activity.

Based on the photographic images and tracks, CDFW biologists believe that this lone animal is a gray wolf. The animal's tracks are significantly larger than those of a coyote, and a comparison of the images with photos of an adult coyote captured at the same site indicate the animal is significantly larger than a coyote.

CDFW is clear in its statement that this new wolf if not OR-7, a male who returned to Oregon in 2013, bred with a mate and is part of a new pack. This gray wolf, if that's what it is, is likely another dispersing wolf — and unlike OR-7, has not been tagged or fitted with a radio device for tracking. So they are kind of guessing.

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