A family of gray wolves has been discovered in Northern California, making it the second wolf pack to be established in the state since the species went extinct in California in 1924.
The first confirmed breeding pair of gray wolves in California was discovered in Siskiyou County in 2015. That wolf pack, known as the Shasta Pack, included five pups. They haven't been spotted since May 2016, though one pup was found in northwestern Nevada in November 2016, the Associated Press reported.
The latest discovery was made in Lassen County in the Lassen National Forest, where California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials discovered evidence of the presence of wolves in May, according to the CDFW.
On June 30, wildlife biologists succeeded in trapping the adult female after 12 days of attempts. They collared and released it.
"The anesthesia and collaring process went smoothly and the wolf was in excellent condition," CDFW's senior wildlife veterinarian, Dr. Deana Clifford, said in a prepared statement. "Furthermore, our physical examination indicated that she had given birth to pups this spring."
On July 1, the wildlife biologists returned to the area to check up on the female and discovered tracks that appeared to be from wolf pups. They found a nearby U.S. Forest Service trail camera which revealed three pups with the female.
The wolf pack was named the Lassen Pack.
"We are excited by the discovery of a second pack," CDFW spokeswoman Jordan Traverso told The Mercury News. "If two packs can be established, then others can get here.
"This is historic wolf habitat and it's great to see them return to where they were once all pushed out."
Amaroq Weiss, a wolf advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, told the Sacramento Bee that "it's pretty fabulous news for California and for wolves."
But not everybody is happy about the discovery.
"Their return has been met with mixed emotion," Traverso told the Mercury News. "Some see it as excellent news, after 100 years. But a lot of the land up there is used for cattle ranching and there is some concern, too, about people's property."
Gray wolves are endangered and are state and federally protected, so ranchers and farmers are unable to do anything about troublesome wolves feeding on their livestock.
Traverso told the Sacramento Bee that the tracking collar on the female wolf could help minimize the friction with ranchers.
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