A new pack of gray wolves has been confirmed at a site in Sequoia National Forest, California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials announced on Friday.
The new pack consists of at least five wolves that have not been detected before in California — an adult female and four pups, two female and two male, CDFW noted after an investigation. None of the collected samples came from an adult male wolf.
Gray wolves are native to California but had been extirpated from the state by the 1920s. In 2011, adult male wolf OR7 crossed into the state to expand his territory before returning to Oregon; the adult female in the new wolf pack is descended from OR7.
CDFW also noted that the new pack is the southernmost wolfpack in the state of California with at least 230 miles between it and the closest wolfpack in the northeastern part of the state.
The pack was first reported to CDFW on July 6 from a portion of Sequoia National Forest in the state’s Tulare County. A subsequent investigation of the reported site turned up 12 fecal and hair samples, which were then tested and confirmed to be those of gray wolves.
That first sighting was by Michelle Harris and Samantha Wienicki-Love of Colibri Ecological Consulting, who were in the area doing work to help the forest recover from 2022 wildfires.
“As Sam and I were driving into our site, a large canid ran off the Forest Service road ahead of us. She paused, and started to pace and make these vocalizations. All we could think was, ‘she doesn’t look like a coyote but she has to be, right?’ She sure didn’t behave like a coyote either,” Ms. Harris recounted in an Instagram caption.
After driving a little further, the two ecologists found large tracks, which further indicated that the canid they saw was not a coyote.
As their team and others have continued working in Sequoia National Forest, more signs of the wolfpack have been found.
“I’m still in awe. We’ve continued to find tracks in the area, as I’ve been working here weekly,” Ms. Harris concluded in the caption.
• Brad Matthews can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.