By Danielle Jester
“Whatever people think, it looks like California is going to have wolves,” said Kent Laudon, senior environmental science specialist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at the Si mskiyou County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesdayorning.
“Whatever people think, it looks like California is going to have wolves,” said Kent Laudon, senior environmental science specialist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning. “The question is, ‘What happens next?’” he said.
Supervisors received an update on wolf activity as Laudon gave a presentation reviewing the activity of specific wolves in the county and discussing guidance for suspected wolf depredation.
Laudon began by sharing his view that wolf presence in California should not involve a question of whether it is a good or bad thing. Since 2012, at least 11 documented wolves have come through California, Laudon said. Four of those wolves reproduced, and two packs were established: The Shasta pack and the Lassen pack.
One wolf, OR-54, is on its second trip in California now, Laudon said. It has gone as far south as Interstate 80 and has been spending time in the Sierra Valley since – an area situated southeast of Siskiyou County that sits in both Plumas and Sierra counties.
The second wolf being tracked in California is OR-44. It was shown on two photos that were captured by trail cameras in spring of 2018; those pictures made the rounds on Facebook earlier this year. One photo shows the wolf – clearly wearing a collar – standing alone, and the other shows it standing next to a bear. The last trail camera photo of OR-44 was captured on May 28. Since then, the wolf’s tracking collar has failed completely, Laudon said.
The wolf tracking technology does not always work properly, he conceded. Other than a collar failing completely, sometimes the technology does not report to CDFW that a wolf is in the area, the way it is supposed to.
Laudon gave an overview of the gray wolf sections of the CDFW’s website. Included on the website are information on wolf conservation and management, wolf depredation investigations and concerns, suggested techniques for discouraging wolf presence, and a form to report a gray wolf sighting. That information can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/mammals/gray-wolf.
When asked by District 3 Supervisor Michael Kobseff about the potential delisting of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act, CDFW biologist Pete Figura – who was also present at the meeting – explained that the current wolf plan, which is in the implementation process, considers a future where the wolf is delisted and one where it is listed.
Kobseff asked if a plan for a process to delist the wolf has been created, should the California wolf population continue to grow. “The ability to delist is there at any time,” Figura said. The CDFW can make recommendations to the California Fish and Game Commission, which has the final say on the wolf’s listing status. There are no specific criteria for when the wolf would be delisted, he said.
Laudon provided a number of graphs that showed the relationship between wolf population and ungulate population. When one rises, so does the other; and when one population falls, the other falls as well. Laudon said it is unclear whether the wolf population is affected by the ungulate population or vice versa. CDFW is making a greater effort to track ungulate populations in Siskiyou County.