California’s only known wolfpack more than doubled in size recently with a brand-new litter of eight pups. It’s the fourth consecutive year the Lassen Pack has had a new litter and is a monumental event for wolf conservationists in the state.
“We’re elated at the birth of the Lassen pack’s endearing pups, who are breathing new life into the Golden State’s wolf recovery,” said Amaroq Weiss, a senior West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These little ones give hope to everyone who wants to see wolves reestablished in the places these beautiful animals once called home.”
The original Lassen pack father, a gray-colored animal, has not been seen since June of last year. As of fall 2019, the pack consisted of the breeding female, a subadult wolf from the 2018 litter and the four pups from the 2019 litter. Earlier this year, the Lassen female was seen with a lone black male wolf.
This year’s new litter consists of eight pups, and genetic test results so far from their scat shows that at least four are male and two are female. DNA testing of scat collected from both the pups and the black adult male wolf also establish that he is the father of this new litter. His scat is also being tested to try to determine his pack of origin.
With these new pups, the Lassen pack now consists of at least 14 animals including the mother and father wolf, the new eight pups and four subadult wolves from the pack’s prior litters.
The Lassen pack is only California’s second confirmed pack in nearly 100 years. The only other known pack in California was the Shasta Pack, which mysteriously disappeared in Siskiyou County recently. There are currently multiple investigations in NorCal pertaining to the suspicious deaths of wolves in the area. In California, wolf killers could face years in prison.
The Lassen pack was first confirmed in 2017 and had four pups in 2017, five in 2018 and four in 2019. Not all the pups have survived, and some have left the pack. Wolves tend to stay with their birth pack the first few years of their lives before dispersing to seek mates and their own territory.
The Lassen Pack, which lives in remote Lassen County, is the descendant of famed OR-7, a wolf that famously traveled from Oregon into Northern California in 2011, becoming the first known wolf in the state in nearly 100 years. The Lassen Pack’s father wolf, known as CA-08M, is the son of OR-7.
The revival of wolves in Northern California remains a controversial topic in rural communities. The fascinating animals diversify the local ecosystems while creating legitimate arguments between conservation and protecting personal property, particularly of cattle on remote ranches.