The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced that a collared gray wolf was seen on trail camera footage in mid-May on private property in southwestern Kern County. It’s possible that this was OR-93, whose whereabouts have been unknown since his GPS collar went completely silent in early April 2021, raising concerns that the young male wolf may no longer be alive.

“It is welcome news that video footage of a collared gray wolf was captured by a trail camera in Kern County in mid-May, and that it could have been wolf OR-93, after his collar went silent nearly six weeks prior.” said Pamela Flick, California program director. “While there’s no guarantee that he remains safe and in the same area today, we’re certainly keeping hope alive that OR-93 may eventually find what he’s been searching for – a mate – and that they’ll establish a new wolf pack in the Golden State, perhaps in a territory farther south than any known wolves in modern times. That’s a really exciting prospect for wolf recovery in California.”

According to CDFW, OR-93’s radio collar stopped emitting “pings” on April 5 this year in the central coast region of San Luis Obispo County, California. However, the Department had not picked up a “mortality signal” from the collar, either. It’s likely that the collar’s batteries simply died, no longer enabling it to transmit signals of any kind.

The Department reports that it will begin immediate investigations in the Kern County area, including flyovers to try to locate the wolf via radio telemetry, in hopes of finding any evidence that could identify this wolf using DNA analysis.

“This recent development shows that as California’s wolf population continues to move into new territories, the use of non-lethal strategies to reduce wolf-livestock conflicts also needs to expand into new areas of the state,” said Flick. “We at Defenders look forward to continuing to work with CDFW, USDA Wildlife Services, livestock producers and property owners to make conflict reduction tools and tactics available so that ranchers and wolves can thrive on shared landscapes.” 

About Oregon Gray Wolf 93

OR-93 was born in 2019 into the White River Pack near Mount Hood, Oregon. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife collared him in June 2020, making him the 93rd wolf collared by the agency and giving him the moniker OR-93. He crossed over the California-Oregon state line in Modoc County in late January 2021, bringing with him the potential for new genetics to California’s small gray wolf population. OR-93 is the first known wild wolf in a century to travel so far south in California.

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