TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – California has a new gray wolf pack in Tulare County, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDWF) announced Friday.
The CDWF says this is the Golden State’s southernmost pack, and it is at least 200 air miles from the nearest known pack in northeastern California.
In July, CDFW received a wolf sighting report from a location in the Sequoia National Forest. CDFW investigated the reported location and found wild tracks and other signs of wolf presence, and collected 12 scat and hair samples from the immediate area for genetic testing.
Upon DNA analysis competition by the CDFW’s Wildlife Forensics Laboratory, all of the 12 samples used were confirmed to be from gray wolves. The new pack consists of at least five individuals not previously detected in California, including one adult female, who is a direct descendant of California’s first documented wolf in the state in recent history.
The CDFW says gray wolves are native to California, but were extirpated in the state by the 1920s. In late 2011, OR7 crossed the state line to become the first world in nearly a century to make California part of his range before returning to Oregon to form the Rogue Pack.
CDFW officials warn that wolves are protected under California’s Endangered Species Act, so it is illegal to intentionally kill or harm wolves in the state.
To report potential sightings, the CDFW encourages residents to visit the Gray Wolf Program webpage.