Information provided by California Department of Fish and Wildlife
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced it is investigating reports of a gray wolf that was spotted in northern Ventura County. The agency said that between Sept. 20-26 it received three sighting reports of a gray wolf with a purple collar.
Accordign to the release, staff began site inspections and confirmed recent wolf tracks in the vicinity but was unable to collect forensic evidence to confirm whether the wolf is OR-93, the wolf that trarveled over 900 miles between January and April.
“The recent reports match the description of OR-93, who was fitted with a purple tracking collar by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in Oregon in June 2020,” the release states. “The collar was monitored by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife but it stopped transmitting in April.”
The agency said that though OR-93’s location is unkonwn, the agency might attempt to capture and re-collar the wolf to continue tracking its journey if an opportunity arises. It also stated that although historically all of California is wolf habitat, this is the farthest south in California that gray wolf has been documented since one was captured in San Bernardino County in 1922.
According to Fish and Wildlife OR-93 is a male wolf born in 2019. He dispersed from the White River pack in northern Oregon. When his collar was providing information, he was tracked entering Modoc County on Jan. 30, 2021. After briefly returning to Oregon, he reentered Modoc County on Feb. 4. On Feb. 24, he entered Alpine County after passing through portions of Lassen, Plumas, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Amador and Calaveras counties. On Feb. 25, he entered Mono County. In mid-March, he was in western Tuolumne County. By late March he was in Fresno County, and then entered San Benito County after crossing Highway 99 and Interstate 5. He was in Monterey County on April 1 and his last collar transmission was from San Luis Obispo County on April 5. Through April 5 he had traveled at least 935 air miles in California, a minimum average of 16 air miles per day.
In August, the Department received trail camera video from May 15, 2021 showing a collared gray wolf in southwest Kern County that might have been OR-93. The trail camera records wildlife use at a water trough on private property. Though the video was from May, the trail camera was not checked until August, when it was provided to Fish and Wildlife.
The Department strongly encourages the public to be aware that the wolf population continues to grow in California and to know the difference between wolves and coyotes. Though gray wolves are generally much bigger than coyotes, they can sometimes be misidentified. See identification tips here.
Gray wolves are listed as endangered pursuant to California’s Endangered Species Act an as such any take (harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap or capture) is illegal. Anyone who believes they have seen a wolf in California can report it to CDFW online.
Fish and Wildlife added that gray wolves pose very little safety risk to humans and said it is working to monitor and conserve California’s small wolf population and is collaborating with livestock producers and diverse stakeholders to minimize wolf-livestock conflicts.
Gray wolf management in California is guided by CESA as well as CDFW’s Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California, finalized in 2016. More information is available on CDFW’s wolf page.