Footage of the first gray wolf pack spotted in California in the past century has been released on Thursday by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
This is exciting news for the Californian biodiversity. The pack, comprising two adults and five pups was spotted in Northern California, in the Siskiyou County. Allegedly, one of the members of the pack is the lone wolf spotted in spring in the same area.
The gray wolf pack, dubbed the Shasta pack certainly took authorities by surprise. As there have been no wolves in the state of California for almost a century, wildlife authorities are looking to quickly finalize a management plan that was drafted when a lone gray wolf wandered from Oregon to California in 2011.
As it returned to its home, the management plan was left adrift. However, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife knew it was just a matter of time before the gray wolf would re-establish in California.
The Shasta pack has fully black fur. The five pups are estimated to be 4 months old. It is still unclear if the pack is related to the first wolf spotted in 2011. Nonetheless, it is now necessary that the state comes up with a plan on wolf population management.
Last year, the Fish and Game Commission voted upon a resolution to protect wolves in the state of California under the Endangered Species Act. However, fierce opposition comes from hunters and ranchers who are arguing that treating the wolves as such would lead to depleting hunters’ game, such as deer and elk or would render ranchers powerless in the face of wolves threatening their livestock.
In order to offset these concerns, Karen Kovacs with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife stated that livestock losses in different states due to wolf attacks were minimal. Enforcing programs and management techniques would deal with the possible losses.
The exact location of the seven-wolf pack is rather difficult to access at the moment, as numerous private timber holdings and logging roads are blocking pathways. Which works in the advantage of the gray wolves for now, until a clear management plan to protect both sides is set in place.
In order to find out if the Shasta pack is related to the lone wolf spotted in 2011 and named OR7, a team of biologists have picked up scat and droppings both from that specimen and the new back. The pieces of evidence are being tested in Idaho for any possible DNA relations.
Wolf populations across the U.S. have been almost exterminated by 1930s. Hunting, poaching and killing for protection decimated the wolf populations to near extinction. Now, they are returning to their former habitats, aided by federal protection programs.
In 2008, Oregon brought back the first pair of wolves in the state. In 2014, the wolf population of Oregon counted 77 individuals. Many other states have followed in the footsteps.
Now, the Shasta pack brings a public issue back in the limelight. It is unclear if there is a limit to the number of individuals California could support. Yet, with efforts to finalize the wolf population management plan being stepped up, more details should be available by the end of the year.
Photo Credits: hdnux.com