Where Wolf?

Let’s start with this alert: “Anyone who believes they have seen a wolf in California can report their sighting to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)”-californiawolfsightings@wildlife.ca.gov. The CDFW’s call for information is for any old gray wolf, Canis lupus, sighted any time any where in California. There aren’t many. Years ago wolves were hunted down and ousted from the state, a gray wolf’s natural habitat. They were all gone by the 1920s and are currently listed as endangered under  California’s Endangered Species Act. The gray wolves are not harmful to humans and are, in fact, the wild ancestor of all our Del Mar domesticated dogs, from poodles and pugs to bulldogs.


Just now, however, the focus is on one wolf in particular: OR 93. This two-year-old male, a native of the Mount Hood area in Oregon, has wolf wanderlust and has been spotted in California. OR 93’s appearance in California is remarkable. According to the CDFW OR 93 has been tracked “the farthest south in the state that any gray wolf has been seen since one was found in San Bernardino County in 1922.” 


While it is common for young adult wolves to travel hundreds of miles to find a new territory, these latest sightings of OR 93 are encouraging the CDFW to speculate that, after a century or so, the species may be thinking about returning to California. The CDFW monitors wolves to manage the small but perhaps expanding wolf population. OR 7 came to California in 2011 followed by several others who were collared and tracked to the state. They and a few additional unidentified wolves managed to form two breeding packs. The Shasta Pack produced one litter in 2015. The Lassen Pack has produced one litter a year since 2017 and two litters in 2020.


Therefore, OR 93 has reached a certain celebrity status. Venturing out from the White River wolf pack in northern Oregon, suited up with a purple tracking collar, OR 93 has made several trips into various Northern California territories. He passed by Yosemite and wandered about the Bay Area. He is savvy enough to have crisscrossed three California freeways. At the last reporting, he is thought to be roaming Ventura County, traveling south. Can San Diego County be next? 


Who/what is OR 93 hoping to find? A purple-collared mate? If so, where? Only he will know her when he sees her, if he does. And if he does, he will mate for life. Keep a sharp lookout!