A young male wolf who was the first to reach Mono County, just east of Yosemite National Park, in 100 years has been found dead, wildlife authorities have confirmed.
The gray wolf, known as OR93, was GPS-collared and born in 2019. He had left the White River pack in northern Oregon and travelled to California, passing through parts of Lassen, Plumas, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Amador and Calaveras counties.
In February, he entered Mono County. This is the furthest south a wolf has traveled in California since the species returned to the state 10 years ago.
“Young gray wolves can disperse very long distances from their natal area and OR93 is no exception,” read a statement from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“The last documented wolf that far south was captured in San Bernardino County in 1922.”
The last time OR93’s collar had transmitted a GPS signal was April 5. Until that point, the wolf had traveled almost 1,000 air miles in California, averaging 16 miles per day.
He was found dead near Interstate 5 close to the town of Lebec on November 10. A truck driver had called wildlife authorities to report seeing a dead wolf on a dirt trail.
His body was taken to the Wildlife Health Laboratory in Rancho Cordova and a necropsy was performed. It was determined OR93 had been hit by a car. He had suffered significant trauma to one of his rear legs, as well as soft tissue trauma to his abdomen. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said no foul play was suspected.
Gray wolves are protected by California’s Endangered Species Act and it is illegal to hunt, shoot, wound, kill, capture or harm them.
Wolves were once found across California, with historical ranges showing they frequented Sierra Nevada, the southern Cascades, Modoc Plateau and the Klamath Mountains. They are also thought to have been found in the North Cast Ranges, while observations from early explorers indicate they were found in the Central Valley and the Coastal Ranges.
As humans started settling in the state they were driven out. By the 1920s, they were completely gone. This changed in 2011 when a lone male known as OR7 entered the state. Since then, more have arrived and there are three packs in California—the Shasta, Lassen and Whaleback packs. The latter two are known to have bred pups this year.
As of October 2021, wolves are known to roam Siskiyou, Lassen, Sierra and Plumas counties.
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