Defenders of Wildlife celebrates the announcement of a newly documented gray wolf pack in California’s Sequoia National Forest. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today confirmed that the state’s newest wolf family consists of at least five individuals not previously detected in California including four pups – two females and two males. CDFW has not yet provided a name for this new wolf pack but did note that the one female in the group is a direct descendant of California’s first documented wolf in the state this century.
“California has reached another exciting milestone in gray wolf recovery with the discovery of a new pack in the southern Sierra Nevada,” said Pamela Flick, California Program Director for Defenders of Wildlife. "This recently detected group of wolves is at least 200 straight-line miles from the nearest known California pack and demonstrates the species’ amazing ability to disperse long distances and take advantage of the state’s plentiful suitable habitat.”
In response to a wolf sighting in Sequoia National Forest last month, CDFW collected numerous samples for genetic analysis. DNA testing confirmed that one adult female is a descendant of OR-7, who in late 2011 became California’s first documented wolf in nearly 90 years. While no genetic samples of the breeding male were collected on site, the offspring’s genetic profile revealed that the pups’ father is a descendant of the Lassen Pack.
“The incredible contributions of pioneering wolf OR-7 endure, with one of the newly detected adult females being his direct descendent,” Flick continued. “We are thrilled to see gray wolves thriving in the Golden State and making their way to more areas of the state, which now includes the majestic Sequoia National Forest.”
Tulare County is the farthest south a wolf family has taken up residency in the state in recent times. In early 2021, OR-93 made headlines when he traversed the Sierra region then made it all the way to Ventura County, at the time being the southernmost wolf sighting in California in more than a century. His journey sadly ended in November of that year when he was found deceased near Interstate 5 in Kern County.
Gray wolves are protected under both the federal and California Endangered Species Acts.