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Wolf track in snow. Photo by Linda Hay. Photo courtesy of CA Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The California Fish and Game Commission has voted to move forward with listing the gray wolf as an endangered species under California law.
The vote took place at the regularly scheduled Commission meeting in Fortuna on June 4. Commissioners Richard Rogers, Jack Baylis and Michael Sutton voted for listing, while Commissioner Jacque Hostler-Carmesin voted no. Commissioner Jim Kellogg was not present.
“No land animal is more iconic in the American West than the Gray Wolf,” said Sutton, who is also president of the Commission. “Wolves deserve our protection as they begin to disperse from Oregon to their historic range in California.”
The new regulatory language will take several months to complete and approve. However, today’s decision provides permanent protection for the gray wolf, and immediate protection under the California Endangered Species Act. That protection will remain in place throughout the required regulatory process.
The gray wolf is already federally listed as an endangered species and is therefore protected by the federal Endangered Species Act in California. The federal Endangered Species Act makes it unlawful to take any listed wildlife unless permitted by regulation. The term “take” means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect or attempt to engage in any such conduct. The protection provided under federal law overlaps, but does not supersede, protection provided by listing under California law.
At this time, there are no gray wolves known to be in California. A male wolf that originated in northeastern Oregon – known as OR7 – has crossed the Oregon/California state line several times since December 2011. At this time, OR7 is in southwestern Oregon, where he has found a mate. On Monday, June 3, biologists from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife captured photographs of two wolf pups in the vicinity.
For more information about gray wolves, including OR7’s travels in California, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/nongame/wolf/FAQ.html.