The emergence of the Shasta Pack shows OR-7s year of visits was no fluke-

Wolf supporters in California and elsewhere are rejoicing with the discovery of the state’s first wolf pack in a century.

There are five, 4-month old pups, and two adults. This is probably the first year for the pack. They roam the general area that famous Oregon OR-7 (“Journey”) discovered back in 2011-2. He found no mate in California and returned to southern Oregon after a couple years. This discovery of a likely unrelated wolf pack in 2015 then was a big surprise, but not as unexpected had not OR-7 explored the area.

It is likely that adults of the Shasta Pack came from Oregon, either as pair or as dispersers who met in northern California. DNA tests are being done to figure out their pack origin. The Shasta Pack was discovered by trail cameras that were set after two reports of an adult wolf in the area. See picture of the pups.

The pups of the Shasta wolf pack.

The pups of the Shasta wolf pack (from California Fish and Wildlife)

Back in southern Oregon, OR-7 is in his second year as alpha male of the Rogue River Pack. He finally met a female disperser in 2013-4 and they began the task or repopulating Oregon’s Cascade and Coast Range. mountains. They had their second litter in the spring of 2015. Tests show that OR-7s mate, like OR-7, had originated in NE Oregon. The Rogue River Pack currently has 7 wolves.

Also in the general area of the Rogue River Pack, there have been a number of indications of an unrelated wolf or wolves. This (now) apparent pair is being called the Keno Pair.

Note that the Cascade Range begins in southern British Columbia and runs south through western Washington and Oregon to end at Mt. Shasta in northern California. In the last 3-4 years two packs established in the Northern Cascades in Washington and now these 2, maybe 3 groups or packs at the southern end of the range.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

43 Responses to California gets its first wolf pack

  1. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    Hoping they have many more litters and progeny in the Cascades.

  2. avatar Logan says:

    Cool discovery.

  3. avatar Immer Treue says:

    Fanfare initially appears subdued. I guess that’s good. Wolves have finally made it to California after twenty years (almost 100 if we look back to their extirpation), and the sky has not fallen.

    • avatar Jeff N. says:

      Now we wait for the first pack confirmation in CO and to a lesser extent, UT. I’m rather surprised that it hasn’t happened yet and I would have bet the farm that CO and/or UT would have had a confirmed breeding population of wolves before CA, regardless of the hostility towards wolves in both CO and (especially)UT.

      It is pretty cool that the stateside Cascades have been “bookended” by wolves now.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        “I’m rather surprised that it hasn’t happened yet and I would have bet the farm that CO and/or UT would have had a confirmed breeding population of wolves before CA, regardless of the hostility towards wolves in both CO and (especially)UT”

        Can’t recall where I read about it yet although it was recently, Jeff N, that as long as a state doesn’t “officially” recognize an endangered species within the borders of their state (as in wolves) they don’t have to concern themselves or put into place, protections for that endangered species.

        Does that ring a bell with anyone else?

        • avatar Jeff N. says:

          Nancy,

          I understand what you are saying but in general terms I am just very surprised that a breeding pair hasn’t found a foothold in either of these two states by now based on the documentation of individual wolves showing up in both CO and UT.. I am inclined to think that a few dispersers from WY would have a better chance reaching and hooking up in CO and UT, before a few wolves from OR found bliss in CA, based on population density and dispersal movements adjacent to the neighboring states mentioned.

          Hey Ralph….I have asked you this before, years ago, and you gave a “non-answer” answer …are you aware of any breeding wolves in UT and CO??? What say you?

          • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

            Jeff N.

            I was told my several people who know the outdoors in northern Utah that there was a wolf pack with pups on Monte Cristo Ridge, and that is a very likely spot.

            I am pretty sure there have been packs, just due to the proximity of Utah. I have no real evidence.

            I image they were all shot to pieces.

            • avatar Jeff N. says:

              Dr. Ralph,

              Interesting. I imagine you are probably correct regarding possible fate of this UT pack.

          • avatar Zeewolf says:

            Hi Jeff N. – Some thoughts on Colorado wolves from a resident (me) who has wanted to see them in the state for the last twenty-five years and has been waiting patiently (and so far in vain) for an established breeding pair.

            Perhaps you understand this already but for the benefit of those who don’t the Red Desert south of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is a formidable natural barrier. Combined with Interstate 80 and the culture of destruction that the anti-predator folks in Wyoming have for wolves, I am not so surprised that wolves have yet to re-establish themselves here in the Centennial State. Also, the anti-predator forces in northern Colorado seem, in my opinion, nearly as formidable as those in Wyoming.

            That being said, here is the latest incidence of a wolf being shot in Colorado…

            http://www.9news.com/story/news/local/2015/05/28/officials-confirm-gray-wolf-killed-in-colorado/28125117/

            Besides the wolf mentioned in the story found dead in 2009, to my knowledge there has been one more found killed by traffic on Interstate 70 near Georgetown in 2004.

            Here is what the official state website says about wolves, again perhaps you know about this already but if not or for those interested:

            http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/SOC-GrayWolf.aspx

            I am thrilled that wolves are in the southern Cascades in California, my native state. I had visited Lava Beds National Monument back near the Ides of April and it is possible that I was unwittingly hiking near wolf country. I am less convinced, after two decades of waiting, that wolves will establish themselves in Colorado with the current political climate and attitude to the north, but am nonetheless keeping my fingers crossed.

            • avatar Jeff N. says:

              Dr. Ralph,

              Interesting. I imagine you are probably correct regarding possible fate of this UT pack.

              • avatar Jeff N. says:

                Oops…..double post.

                Zee, thanks for the info and insight.

                • avatar Ida Lupine says:

                  I’ve shared your bemusement about why there are no wolves in UT, despite proximity and wolves’ innate nature to disburse and roam. I think there’s an unwritten rule of law there that wolves are to be shot on sight.

                  http://fox13now.com/2015/04/30/utah-pays-high-priced-lobbyist-to-de-list-wolves/

                • avatar Zeewolf says:

                  Ida… lol, “disburse” means to pay out money from a fund. I believe that the word you were looking for is “disperse”.

                  BTW, I also believe that that unwritten rule exists in such places as Moffat, Routt, Jackson, Grand, Rio Blanco, etc… Counties in Colorado. They are more “hard core” than most people realize, in my opinion.

                • avatar Ida Lupine says:

                  No, I think the word I’m looking for falls somewhere near “petty” and “presumptuous”. Do you have nothing better to do than to point out people’s typos?

                • avatar W. Hong says:

                  Ms. Lupine, perhaps if you didn’t make so many, then no one would pay attention to them.

                • avatar Ida Lupine says:

                  oh I don’t think so – this might be the first one ever. 😉

            • avatar TC says:

              The Red Desert not only isn’t a formidable barrier to wolves Zeewolf, it would be wolf heaven, especially in winter. Winter range for elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and oddly the enough the occasional moose, lots of smaller game, and more than the occasional wild/feral horse that dies and is ripe for scavenging (and perhaps young/old for killing). It’s a wonderful place under siege on many fronts. Wolves would need to stay out of sight and would want to move on before greenup and grazing season though.

              • avatar Zeewolf says:

                I stand corrected…

              • avatar Zeewolf says:

                Well, I even feel more the fool now… Reading the Wikipedia article, the first sentence includes the phrase “sagebrush steppe”, exactly the type of place I believe needs more protection for wildlife habitat. The article further mentions the diverse wildlife. For some reason I had no idea…

                My own ignorant prejudice was that the Red Desert is a place ecologically inhospitable to wildlife. Prejudice and ignorance… it would seem that I have been caught with my pants down. Perhaps I was unconsciously seeking out an ecological scapegoat regarding wolves transplanting themselves south when the real culprit would seem to be human activity.

                Thank you, TC, for bringing this to my attention. Next time I am in the area I will pay a bit more attention.

                • avatar TC says:

                  You’re welcome. Go visit it sometime (maybe not in the peak of summer though).

                • avatar Yvette says:

                  Zeewolf, I respect and admire people that are able to admit an error. Anyone on any issue. Surprising how many people seem unable to simple say, “I stand corrected”.

      • avatar Yvette says:

        Wasn’t it a coyote bounty hunter in UT that ‘thought he saw a coyote’ when the dispersing female named Echo was killed?

        Didn’t a similar thing happen in CO? What chance will they have as long as coyote killers are out working to earn bounties and are protected under McKittrick?

        Hopefully one day we will evolve.

        • avatar Zeewolf says:

          Yvette – Forgot to mention in my above post to Jeff N.regarding the wolf shot in Colorado back in May… it was indeed an individual claiming to be out hunting coyotes. If people really can’t tell the difference between a wolf and a coyote then perhaps coyote hunting ought to be banned. Of course, personally, I think it ought to be banned on its own accord.

          • avatar Yvette says:

            Coyote hunting won’t ever be totally banned, but they need to ban the killing contests and to have seasons, at a minimum. We are 21st century humans living under 19th and early 20th century beliefs and attitudes. That would be a good place to start, and we should look at repealing or amending McKittrick.

  4. avatar Amre says:

    Truly historic. It’s wonderful to see the southern cascades be repopulated.

  5. avatar monty says:

    In 2013 my son saw what he thought was two wolves in the 3 Sisters Wilderness that is 40 air miles from Crater Lake. We turned the info into the Oregon wildlife folks.At that time, he found a dead spike bull elk and was uncertain about what had killed the critter.

  6. avatar ramses09 says:

    This is great news – lets hope that they stay safe & protected from murderous humans.

    • avatar Yvette says:

      +1 ramses09. My hope is they stay in CA and I hope their location is not revealed to the public. That may have already happened though.

  7. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    Yes, it’s wonderful news – but I am holding my breath right now. If there’s any place that is safe for them, California is.

  8. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    Kathy Lynch’s Yellowstone wolf update is especially good this time!

  9. avatar Brett Haverstick says:

    Gray wolves are, perhaps, the greatest barometer of biological connecting corridors and their imnportance. Instead of designating “rocks and ice” as new Wilderness, we need to work to permanently protect the valleys, rangelands, and low-elevation wildlands. OR7 is showing us the way.

    • avatar Zeewolf says:

      Brett – I generally agree, although I don’t think we should dismiss “rocks and ice” altogether because they are generally the headwaters where the clean water begins to flow as well as airsheds. There are many species that are endemic to alpine life-zones and if there are worthy wildlands that happen to be “rocks and ice” I would rather see them protected than mined. Some of this high country is great summer range for ungulates, also.

      That being said, I believe that we need to get more valleys, grasslands, sagebrush steppe and low-elevation wildlands protected so that wildlife will have adequate winter habitat. While I believe we need better protection for low-elevation public lands I believe that the time has come for the conservation community to put its money where its mouth is – what I mean be that is that private lands need to be bought and retired from any exploitative use, whether that’s mining, grazing, sub-dividing, etc… I would offer that any chunk of land five acres or above would be worthy to be set aside. If it comes with water rights then put that water to use recreating a wetlands somewhere. This is a daunting task to say the least and I’m sure that I am missing some key components, but I offer this idea as a general outline.

  10. avatar Nancy says:

    “I would offer that any chunk of land five acres or above would be worthy to be set aside. If it comes with water rights then put that water to use recreating a wetlands somewhere. This is a daunting task to say the least and I’m sure that I am missing some key components, but I offer this idea as a general outline”

    Its a great idea, Zeewolf. It seems many Nature Conservancy purchases still allow the grazing of livestock (know at least one rancher who went the NC route with part of their land but its still hayed/grazed/trashed by livestock)

    An organization founded just to buy up land and allow it to go back to nature, would be awesome 🙂

  11. avatar Elk375 says:

    ++An organization founded just to buy up land and allow it to go back to nature, would be awesome :)++

    ++This is a daunting task to say the least and I’m sure that I am missing some key components, but I offer this idea as a general outline.++

    It is called money. $$$$$$$

    Nancy

    ++It seems many Nature Conservancy purchases still allow the grazing of livestock (know at least one rancher who went the NC route with part of their land but its still hayed/grazed/trashed by livestock)++

    What did that rancher convey to The Nature Conservancy? I bet that the subdivision and development rights were the only rights conveyed. Does he own the minerals that is another property right. Conveyance compliance with a NGO is usually checked once a year. If in doubt go to the county court house and get the grantor book and look under The Nature Conservancy. Then look for the ranchers name as grantee. Get the DOC# and have a copy of the document printed and read it. If you feel that he/she is out of compliance notify The Nature Conservancy.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Elk – you obviously know much more about Nature Conservancy transactions when it comes to ranchland. I kind of got the feeling that this transaction took place because it was “ready cash” (operating expense) plus the land stays in the family and can’t be subdivided down the road. Unless of course NC wants to wheel & deal with it at some later date?

      A dated but interesting read:

      http://www.hcn.org/issues/151/4889

    • avatar Zeewolf says:

      Elk375, you are correct about the money situation. I have made a further, lengthy reply in the interesting wildlife post for August 05, 2015, as this subject is only indirectly linked to wolves in California.

  12. avatar BC says:

    Good news. I’m also hoping that wolves will span the Rockies. I just don’t understand the hostility toward this native species. There are few things better than hiking in wolf country.

  13. avatar Gary Humbard says:

    I’m moving to La Pine, Oregon which is not too far from where the Rogue Pack (OR-7 and his mate) lives. Maybe, just maybe I will hear wolves howl in Oregon before I leave this body.

    You are absolutely correct BC and I will only add there is NO better thing to do than hike in wolf and I will add “grizzly” country.

  14. avatar charles says:

    I just hope that Californians will accept the wolf better than some of the dummies in Oregon. The hunters and the ranchers are always the most powerful voices. They believe that their petty self serving needs outweigh everyone in the region.

  15. avatar Mike Painter says:

    Minor correction an interesting post: The Cascade Range extends to Mt. Lassen in California, which is even further south than Mt. Shasta.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

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