State’s Only Known Wolf Pack Gives Hope for Future Recovery
SAN FRANCISCO— California’s only known wolf family, the Lassen pack, has produced its fourth litter of pups. The pups’ father joined the pack recently, after the pack’s first breeding male disappeared last summer.
“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.”
Last year the Trump administration proposed to strip legal protection from wolves across the country. Although California’s wolves are fully protected under state law, Oregon’s wolves are not. Because California’s wolves have often traveled from Oregon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s removal of federal protections would harm future wolf recovery in California and elsewhere.
“Wolf recovery in West Coast states is in its infancy, and it’s been made possible by federal protection,” said Weiss. “With the Trump administration’s plans to remove federal safeguards, the inspiring story of wolf recovery in California could tragically be cut short.”
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 Shasta pack, a family of seven wolves, was confirmed in 2015 but by 2016 had mysteriously disappeared.
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 original breeding male was a pup of the famous wolf OR-7, who came to California from Oregon in 2011. OR-7 was the first confirmed wild wolf in the state in 87 years. He spent 15 consecutive months in California before returning to southwestern Oregon, where he eventually found a mate. He has sired pups each year since 2014. This spring Oregon wildlife officials indicated that OR-7 has not been seen since October 2019 and has likely died.