By Melissa Wynn
Photo courtesy of CDFW
On December 28, 2011 the now famous gray wolf known as OR7 crossed the Oregon border into California, making him the first confirmed wild wolf in the state since 1924. Five and a half years later DNA testing confirmed one of his male descendants to be the alpha male of his own growing family in Lassen County.
Dubbed the Lassen Pack this male and his mate produced four known pups, three shown here were captured on a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) trail camera on June 30, 2017. The very same day, after several attempts, CDFW biologists successfully captured the adult female and fitted her with a GPS collar to track the movements of the pack. For data tracking she has been designated wolf LAS01F. Continuing to visit areas frequented by our new canine neighbors allowed CDFW and U.S. Forest Service biologists to gather genetic information revealing the gender of three of the four pups as two females and one male. Further samples have been submitted to try to determine the gender of the fourth pup and the pack origins of the adult female LAS01F.
During October 2017 another wolf, black in color, was discovered wandering with the Lassen Pack but by late December it seemed to have moved on. It’s gender, origins and current location remain unknown.
Over the last year the Lassen Pack has earned it’s name establishing a territory spanning parts of both Lassen and Plumas counties. Sightings have been reported from Westwood to Taylorsville and GPS collar data shows LAS01F and her family have wandered our neck of the woods from the Antelope Lake area to central Plumas County. The family of six seems to be sticking together and local CDWF wolf specialist Kent Laudon tells MVL that LAS01F was believed to be pregnant and expecting a new litter of gray wolf pups late in April.
Wolves are a top predator and while large game like deer and elk make up the largest part of their diet they occasionally prey upon livestock and pets. From mid-September of 2017 through early April of 2018 twelve incidents of suspected depredation on livestock by wolves were reported in the home territory of the Lassen Pack. Upon investigation two were confirmed to be true wolf killings by eye witnesses and GPS collar data. One incident was determined probable that the wolves were responsible and three more were deemed possible. The other six were determined to be caused by something other than wolves including one domestic dog and some from natural causes. Reports from each incident are available online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/mammals/gray-wolf.
On the norm gray wolves pose little risk to humans. If you think you see a wolf in California CDWF asks that you report the sighting. You can do so, as well as upload photos, online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf/Sighting-Report, by phone to 530-225-2300 or by email to CaliforniaWolfSightings@wildlife.ca.gov.
CDWF wolf specialist Kent Laudon is expected to organize a town hall meeting in Westwood later this year to discuss and answer questions regarding the Lassen Pack.
Advise on living near wolves, news archives and much more can be found on the CDWF website.