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Lone Wolf Protection Program

February 29, 2012

Fish & Game publishes delayed satellite tracking to prevent poaching.

Last we checked, California’s first wolf in over 80 years was roaming through Lassen County in Northern California. Yesterday, OR-7, a.k.a. Journey, was in Siskiyou County, still in the north of California, and he got some interesting news: environmental groups submitted a petition the California Department of Fish and Game to list the gray wolf on the California Endangered Species List. If the gray wolf were listed, CDFG would be required to create a recovery and wolf management plan. I am not sure what the exact criteria are in evaluating an endangered species petition but I do wonder whether a species with only one individual residing in the state would qualify, although the gray wolf’s historic range may be what matters. We’ll see what happens.

Wolf Historic Range

The gray wolf's historic range

In the long run, listing the gray wolf under the CA Endangered Species Act would be a good thing. Unless they are subjected to an extermination campaign in Oregon (which would be illegal), gray wolves will continue to spread into their historic habitat, which includes at least the north of California and the Sierra Nevada, depending on who you ask. Creating a wolf management plan would allow the CDFG to plan for reestablishment with the input of environmentalists and ranchers in order to minimize potential conflicts between wolves and livestock, the primary problem with wolves in the states where they have reestablished. The plan could mandate conflict reduction measures for ranchers while also creating a compensation fund for them when they lose livestock. Educating local residents on the minimal dangers of wolves would also be beneficial. To echo Gavin Newsom, in a very different context, it’s going to happen: wolves will come back to California. It’s best we started planning for it.

Update: According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, OR-7 has returned to his home state. We wish him happy and safe travels.

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