Northern California had not seen a gray wolf since the early-1900’s, not until famed wolf OR-7 traveled over the Oregon border and into the southern Cascades in 2009. Now, his offspring are continuing his journey further south into California.
OR-54, a two-year-old offspring of OR-7, was tracked into the Sierra Nevada mountains last week, a little under 100 miles away from Lake Tahoe. Wandering into Sierra and Nevada Counties, it was the furthest south a wolf has traveled into the area in over 100 years.
The family of OR-54 stayed further north while this curious wolf wandered south, for reasons unknown to researchers. It’s not uncommon for wolves stray away from the pack alone, as this female wolf might be in search of food or a mate.
Researchers equipped OR-54 with a tracking device last fall, and since January 3rd of this year, OR-54 has traveled over the Oregon border and back several times, amassing over 638 miles over the calendar year.
This is exciting news for wolf advocates, who believe that wolves will begin crossing into the state and settling back into their original habitat – the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
“What’s tremendously exciting news for wolves in California,” Amaroq Weiss, its West Coast wolf advocate, said in a written statement. “This wolf who followed her famous father’s footsteps into California is now making history of her own, exploring beyond where he traveled into great wolf habitat in the Sierras.”
Wolves have made a resurgence in Northern California over the recent years. A pack of wolves have settled into the Lassen area, with six wolves being collared in the park last summer. Dubbed the “Lassen Pack” the wolves have now settled into the Lassen and Plumas areas.
With the swift reemergence of wolves into the area over the past several years, it will be interesting to see where they choose to settle and how far south the go. It’s an exciting development, to say the least.