Maggie Wells, Staff Writer
Nothing makes neighbors more excited or anxious than a wild animal sighting on their property in Indian Valley.
In the past few weeks, residents have been talking outside the post offices and markets and online on social media about their wolf sightings.
Sometimes the information can be misleading —you read of a wolf kill and you think it’s next door when it’s in Oregon or another state.
By all accounts, sightings started to take place roughly a year ago, with much more frequency in the last few months and often more than one wolf at a time.
Here’s a sample list of recent sightings by locals of the Lassen Wolf Pack now taking up residence in the area.
Misty Banchio reported that six of the 55 students on her bus witnessed three wolves watching them at a bus stop. It was approximately 7 a.m. on the north side of North Arm Road.
Joyce VanFleet Wansgard identified a wolf by Cooks Creek Bridge on Friday, Jan. 19, at about 7 a.m., roughly the same time a calf was killed in the area. There was also a wolf sighting by multiple people the day before near Lights Creek Bridge.
Merri Schramel saw one on the morning of Jan. 6, around 8:30 a.m., at the edge of her horse pasture off Genesee Road.
Heather Kingdon and her granddaughter came across one while feeding their cows Dec. 28.
The Thursday before Christmas, Valerie and Randy Pew spotted one on Arlington Road by the Kearns’ driveway.
Most sightings have been in the early morning and spread from the Genesee area to Arlington Road; North Arm to Diamond Mountain Road.
How can you tell a wolf from a coyote, which have also been sighted? The gray wolf is going to be bigger for one thing — ranging from 70 to 150 pounds, with a gray coat, but can be black, white or cream. Its ears are shorter and rounder than a coyote’s, with a larger nose pad and a blockier and broader physique. It’s about 2 feet longer than a coyote on average, too. Young wolves are difficult to tell apart from coyotes.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife on its website reiterates that instances of “wolves attacking or killing humans is extremely rare.”
The CDFW’s website has a page titled “Gray Wolf Sighting Report” where Indian Valley residents can submit a description of their sightings and upload any photos. It also encourages the reporting of any killed animals immediately to 225-2300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.