New Report Confirms That For The First Time In A Century, California Has At Least Two Wolf Packs Consisting Of 12 Pups

Photos of pups from the Lassen pack in 2017 are from California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Two of California’s three existing wolf families, the Lassen and Whaleback pack, have given birth to 12 pups this year, according to a new quarterly report published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. This marks the first time that California has at least two wolf packs with pups in more than 100 years.

“This is a red-letter moment in wolf recovery for the Golden State,” Amaroq Weiss, senior West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “These little ones are here because of legal protections that are crucial to their survival and made it possible for wolves to return.”

In January, federal protections were removed from wolves across nearly the entire lower 48 states. This includes California, but wolves in the state are still fully protected under California’s Endangered Species Act. Sadly, protections have been removed in neighboring states like Oregon, where many of the wolves in California are traveling from.

The Lassen pack, first confirmed in 2017, has birthed pups every year. The pack’s territory straddles Lassen and Plumas Counties. The Whaleback pack was confirmed in late 2020 and ranges in eastern Siskiyou County. In May, California’s latest wolf family, the Beckwourth pack, was discovered in southern Plumas County.

The most recent report notes that the Lassen pack’s litter consist of six pups, while the Whaleback pack also produced at least six pups. The report also notes that genetic testing has revealed that the breeding female of the Whaleback pack is related to southern Oregon’s Rogue pack.

In 2011, the head of the Rogue pack, OR-7, was the first wolf to come to California in nearly 90 years. OR-7 spent 15 consecutive months in the Golden State before returning to southwestern Oregon, where he eventually found a mate.

“Wolves continue to show us what scientists have said all along, that California is good wolf country and they belong here,” concluded Weiss. “To ensure that wolves can continue to come to California and establish families here, we are fighting to get federal protections restored across the country.”

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