Wolf OR7 Federally Protected by the Endangered Species Act
January 24, 2012
Jordan Traverso, DFG Communications, (916) 654-9937 Scott Flaherty, USFWS (916) 978-6156
The gray wolf designated OR7 has remained in California since he crossed the state line on Dec. 28. The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) closely monitors the wolf’s position and progress, and will report on his status through a new website at www.dfg.ca.gov/wolf.
While OR7 is the only documented wolf in California, any wild gray wolf that returns to California is protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The federal law generally prohibits the harassment, harm, pursuit, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, capture or collection of wolves in California, or the attempt to engage in any such conduct. Penalties include fines up to $100,000 and one-year imprisonment.
Though many sightings have been reported, all other recent “wolf” sightings that have been investigated in California have been found to be something else, such as a coyote, a dog or a hybrid wolf-dog. Despite reports to the contrary, DFG is not aware of confirmed sightings of other wolves in California since 1924. A helpful graphic to help distinguish a wolf from a coyote is available at fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/management/wolf/wolfCoyote.html.
Concerns about human safety are largely based on folklore and are unsubstantiated. In recent years there was one human mortality in Canada caused either by wolves or bears and one confirmed human mortality in Alaska by wolves. Based on experience from states where substantial wolf populations now exist, wolves pose little risk to humans. However, DFG recommends that people never approach a wolf, or otherwise interact with or feed a wolf. Farmers and ranchers can reduce the likelihood of attracting wolves and other predators by removing potential sources of food and other attractants from their land such as discarded animal carcasses, bone piles, etc. More about how to avoid human-wildlife interactions can be found on DFG’s website at www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/ or www.dfg.ca.gov/wolf.
OR7 is a 2 ½ year old male formerly from a pack in northeast Oregon. He is being monitored through various means, including with a Global Positioning System (GPS) device that periodically transmits its location. It is not possible to predict his next movements, but he has remained in eastern Lassen County for approximately one week. DFG is notifying media, local officials and landowners of OR7’s general whereabouts.
DFG has been following the recovery and migration of gray wolves in western states with the expectation that at some point they will likely reach California. The last confirmed wild gray wolf in California was killed in Lassen County in 1924. The available historic information on wolves in California suggests that while they were widely distributed, they were not abundant. DFG has summarized information about wolves in California which can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/nongame/wolf/docs/Gray_Wolf_Report_2012.pdf.