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Endangered Gray Wolf Pack Makes Stunning Appearance in California

gray wolf
Gray Wolf (Canis lupus). Image via Depositphotos

The detection of one adult female and four cubs in Sequoia National Forest offers hope to conservationists. Suggesting that the state’s wolf population is starting to flourish under federal protections.


Pack of Gray Wolves
Pack of gray wolves. Image via Depositphotos

A new gray wolf pack has been sighted in the Sierra Nevada. A development that has brought jubilation among environmental activists who view it as a crucial stride for the species.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Sequoia National Forest
Sequoia National Forest is located in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. The U.S. National Forest is named for the majestic Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) trees which populate 38 distinct groves within the boundaries of the forest. Matthew Dillon from Hollywood, CA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Initially located in Tulare County’s Sequoia National Forest, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) disclosed the discovery. This newly uncovered pack comprises five confirmed members. An adult female, along with her quartet of offspring, consisting of two females and two males.

First Gray Wolves in California

gray wolf
Gray wolf. Mariofan13, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wildlife authorities scrutinized the tracks, gathering droppings and fur samples for genetic analysis. Through this process, they determined that the adult female is a direct descendant of OR-7. This was the first gray wolf documented in California in nearly 90 years. OR-7, also known as Journey, who made history in 2011 as the first wolf to journey from Oregon into California after almost a century, played a pivotal role in securing full protection for wolves under California’s Endangered Species Act. This was thanks to the successful advocacy efforts of activists.


or-7 wolf
OR-7, believed to be the first confirmed wolf in western Oregon since 1947. Photographed in Jackson County, Oregon, May 2014. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Following his arrival in California, OR-7’s presence prompted activists to rally for wolf conservation, ultimately leading to the state’s decision to extend protective measures. Subsequently, it is believed that OR-7 eventually returned to southwestern Oregon, where he found a mate.

OR-7’s Legacy

wolf pups
Two of wolf OR-7’s pups peek out from a log on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, June 2, 2014. Stephenson, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The enduring legacy of pioneering wolf OR-7 continues to amaze us, as one of the newly discovered adult females is a direct descendant. Delighting in the thriving gray wolf population in the Golden State, they now witness its expanding presence, which encompasses the magnificent Sequoia National Forest.

Wolf Packs In The Area

wolf cub
This photo, taken from a US Forest Service remote trail camera, shows a pup from the Lassen Pack, likely grand-pup of OR-7, the famous wolf also known as Journey. California Department of Fish and Wildlife, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This recently identified pack marks only the fourth to establish itself in California over the past century. It joins the ranks of the Lassen pack, ranging across parts of Lassen and Plumas Counties. The Whaleback pack, extending its territory across eastern Siskiyou County. Lastly, the Beckwourth pack, with its domain situated in eastern Plumas County.

Gray Wolf History In California

Gray Wolf
Gray wolves are considered a keystone species, meaning they play a crucial role in maintaining the health and balance of ecosystems. Image by Robert Larsson via Unsplash

Gray wolves were once abundant throughout North America, including California. They played a vital role in the state’s ecosystems, helping regulate prey populations like deer and elk. However, as European settlers expanded westward, the wolves faced persecution due to livestock conflicts and habitat loss.

Wolf Populations Dwindled

gray wolf
Gray wolves are an integral component of the ecosystems to which it typically belongs. USFWS Endangered Species, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hunters, trappers, and government-sponsored predator control programs had nearly eradicated gray wolves from California by the early 20th century. The last known wild gray wolf in California was killed in 1924.

Hope’s Arrival

gray wolf
Image by Lucie Sa via Unsplash

OR-7’s arrival prompted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to take action. In 2014, the state granted protection to gray wolves under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), making it illegal to intentionally harm or harass them.

Future Prospects

sequoia trees
Classic wide-angle view of famous giant sequoia trees, also known as giant redwoods or Sierra redwoods, on a beautiful sunny day with blue sky and clouds in summer, Sequoia National Park, California, USA. Image via Deposiphotos

Overall, in the heart of the Sierra Nevada, the reemergence of a vibrant gray wolf pack has ignited a sense of hope and celebration among environmental advocates. This remarkable discovery initially found within the pristine Sequoia National Forest of Tulare County, underscores the resilience and endurance of this iconic species.

YouTube video

As we reflect on this remarkable milestone, let’s remember that continued vigilance and dedication can ensure that the howl of the gray wolf echoes through our forests for generations to come.


gray wolf
Portrait of gray wolf in the forest. Image via Depositphotos

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Thursday 28th of September 2023

We live in Christmas Valley, South Lake Tahoe, where the caldor fire jumped from Hwy50 over Hwy89. The winter after the fire we were snowshoeing around the neighborhood and my husband saw what we thought was the biggest coyote ever. Until we watched it go up a very steep section of the mountain in about 4 strides. That was no coyote! When I got to where he was, the snow was too deep to see a good footprint. It was also too deep for any of our local coyote to move that fast. The only thing other than a wolf would be, maybe, a vacationer with a large wolf-looking dog, but there were no other humans about anywhere near at that time. We haven't seen anything shine then until last week when the coyotes were sounding off something crazy and I heard a very loud howl I've never heard those guys make before. Whether or not it was a wolf is anybody's guess, but I'm sticking with it was. It makes me very happy to think so! Magnificent creatures!


Friday 29th of September 2023

@Hammerhorn, yes he will it will only become more grand and divine


Friday 29th of September 2023

@Adrienne, you will not have that same beautiful opinion later.

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