Sunday, October 7, 2012

Gray wolf wanders into Tehama County

Friday, Oct 5 2012,

INFORMATION:

More information about OR7 is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife /nongame/wolf.
The California Fish and Game Commission determined Wednesday that listing the gray wolf as an endangered species in the state may be warranted.

On Dec. 28, a lone wolf known as OR7 traveled to California after leaving its pack in northeastern Oregon and has remained in the state the majority of the time.

It has been recorded that the radio-collared animal has traveled into eastern Tehama County on several occasions, most recently during the last two weeks of September.

Since July, the wolf has remained in the same general areas of Tehama, Plumas and Butte counties. It has not gone near any towns.

The Department of Fish and Game said the 2-year-old wolf's behavior of leaving its pack is not "atypical of a wolf his age."

Before OR7, the last confirmed wolf in California was in 1924, and since then, investigated sightings have turned out to be coyotes, dogs or wolf-dog hybrids, Fish and Game reported.

The commission said a status review will be done over the course of the next 12 months, after which a decision will be made whether to list the wolf as an endangered species under state law.

"We have very little information on the history and status of wolves in California," said Michael Sutton, vice president of the Fish and Game Commission, in a statement. "Our decision today (Wednesday) launches a year-long effort to learn more, which in turn will inform our ultimate decision whether or not to protect this iconic species under California law."

Gray wolves such as OR7 are protected as an endangered species in California and elsewhere under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The petition to list wolves as an endangered under California law was filed in February by four groups.

Fish and Game reviewed the petition and concluded it did not include adequate information to make a determination whether listing may be warranted.

However, other information the department was required by law to review did.

Officials said there is no intentional reintroduction of wolves into the state, but did confirm any wolf that enters the state is protected by federal law.

Fish and Game provides online maps of OR7's movements, which are updated periodically. However, there are intentional delays in posting information to protect the actual location of the wolf.
"This wolf's movement pattern, in terms of timing, direction and distance has so far been unpredictable," reported the department.

There has never been a scientific study of wolves in California.

And although there are numerous anecdotal reports of wolves in early California, there is little direct evidence of these wolves beyond two museum specimens — one of a gray wolf and the other likely a Mexican wolf.

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