Environmental Groups Win Battle to Protect Gray Wolves in California

wolf dept of fish and wildlife image

Five gray wolf pups and two adults were discovered in Northern California in 2015. [Photo from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife]

Press release from EPIC:

A state court judge today upheld protection for gray wolves under the California Endangered Species Act. The ruling rejected a challenge from the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation.

“We’re so glad the court got it right and kept protection in place for California’s recovering gray wolves,” said Amaroq Weiss, the Center for Biological Diversity’s West Coast wolf advocate. “The Pacific Legal Foundation’s case was the worst kind of grasping at straws. This is a great result for the vast majority of Californians who want wolves to recover and who understand their importance to healthy ecosystems.”

Ranching groups had challenged gray wolves’ endangered status based on the erroneous claim that the wolves in California are the wrong subspecies. They also wrongly argued that the listing was improperly based on a single wolf’s presence, and that wolves can’t be endangered in the state as there are plenty elsewhere in the world.

“Wolves are coming back to California, and today’s decision gives them a red carpet to return home,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director of the Environmental Protection Information Center.

In 2011 a wolf known as OR-7 crossed the border into California from northeastern Oregon, becoming the first confirmed wild wolf in the state in 87 years. The Foundation had argued, however, that OR-7 was from a subspecies that never existed in California.

The court rightly concluded that the California Fish and Game Commission has the authority to list at the species level and that OR-7 and subsequent wolves that have come into the state share a genetic history with wolves that once were widely distributed across California.

“State protections for wolves are critical given the animosity toward the species at the federal level, “said Nick Cady, legal director of Cascadia Wildlands. “It is a shame that this species, and many others, have been subjected to these political games.”

The court found that the state’s endangered species law protects species at risk of extinction in California and the commission need not consider the status of gray wolves globally. It found that threats to wolves necessitate their protection and the commission has the discretion to protect native species that were historically present based on visitation by even one animal, given the wildlife agency’s projections that more will likely arrive.

“There can be no question that gray wolves in California are endangered and need protection,” said Heather Lewis, an attorney at Earthjustice. “The gray wolf’s return to California is a success story we should celebrate, and we look forward to wolves continuing to recover in the Golden State.”

California has seen the establishment of two packs since OR-7 made his star appearance before returning to Oregon to settle down with a mate. The Shasta pack was discovered in 2015 but by mid-2016 had disappeared. The Lassen pack was confirmed in 2017 and produced pups for the second year in a row in 2018.

“Wolves are not yet close to recovered in California. At a time when the Trump administration is hostile to endangered species conservation, it is critically important that the state of California help recover wildlife like the iconic gray wolf,” said Joseph Vaile, executive director of Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Cascadia Wildlands Center, represented by Earthjustice, intervened on behalf of the state.

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113 comments

  • 🙌 🐺 👍

    • It’s not an erroneous claim that they are not the native sub-species, it’s the truth. It’s Canis Lupus Occedentalis replacing Canis Lupus Irremotus. Everyone should read the book Playing God In Yellowstone. It shows that for decades now, the government views and manages animals as monetary resources.

      • http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/outdoors/2012/aug/01/wolf-experts-confronts-myth-about-native-vs-re-introduced-wolves/

        “Aren’t the wolves that were reintroduced into Yellowstone non-native or different from earlier wolves?
        No. There is no factual basis to the belief that the wolves reintroduced in the mid-1990s to Idaho and Yellowstone National Park from west-central Alberta and east-central British Columbia differed (being larger and more aggressive) from the wolves that originally occurred in the northern Rocky Mountain states.

        Wolves are well known for their ability to disperse long distances from their birth sites. Radio-tracking data demonstrates that the wolves from southeastern British Columbia and southwestern Alberta mixed with wolves from Idaho and Montana, along with those from farther north near the source locations of the animals used in the Idaho and Yellowstone reintroductions. When combined with recent research that reveals considerable genetic mixing among wolf populations in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, this information illustrates that wolves form a single population across the northern U.S. Rocky Mountains and southern Canada.

        Recent genetic research involving hundreds of wolves sampled from Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming in the 1990s and 2000s found no evidence that the remnant native population of wolves differed from the reintroduced wolves. Thus, the wolves present in these states before wolf recovery began were genetically similar to those used in reintroductions into Yellowstone.”

        • As someone who grew up in the GYE watching the wolf introduction unfold, I don’t believe that the information you’re referencing, which 7 years ago was provided by a biologist 3 states away from Yellowstone and more than 18 years after the proJect began, isn’t accurate.

          • The last remaining pack of Irremotus was living in the most remote part of the Wyoming range. The wolf biologists called the ranchers and outfitters liars insisting that it wasn’t possible. Occedentalis was INTRODUCED and took over, later spreading to MT, ID, OR, WA, and now CA.

  • You don’t say? I am totally shocked! Oh well. Don’t complain about your dogs,cats,livestock and eventually children getting killed because there’s to many lions and wolves running around. On the other hand, I would rather see more “wildlife” than humans. [edit]

    • Sarah witcher,salem

      Wolf does not feed on human,because tastes gross.fed off petroleum . Like a dog fed dog food tastes.man is just a threatening curiosity.wolf adopts child.see atlantis.the feral dog must not be crossed with wolf.that could be dangerous.

    • Just act like you live in lion/bear/wolf county and you won’t have a problem.

  • This is good news. It would be really helpful if the locations of these packs were not identified, there are too many “varment hunters” around, especially in Shasta county, that would love to bag a few of these regardless of the law. Really, accross the landscape who is going to stop them? The occasional ranger working in daylight hours?

    • Only a very small percentage of hunter’s break the law. They will breed like rats. Hope you don’t have any farm animals.

      • Rats breed 4 or 5 times a year.

        Wolves breed once a year
        and do it doggy style.

        They do feed on rats and other over populated wildlife.

        • They will also dine on people if given the chance. Don’t recommend you try to make friends with them.

          • Martin wrote: “They will also dine on people if given the chance. Don’t recommend you try to make friends with them.”

            Frankly, this is utter bullshit. At least the first part. There are only 2 possible wolf fatal (non-rabid) wolf attacks recorded in the last 150 years in North America — one in Alaska (presumed wolves based on DNA) and one in Canada (by a guy who was apparently feeding wild wolves). There are none in the lower 48 states that I’m aware of.

            The second part I always agree with when it comes to wild animals — they aren’t your pets or your friends to don’t try to feed them or tame them. It always ends disastrously for either the humans, the animals, or both.

            • Thank you for calling my comment utter bulls**t in the first part. It is not. Do some research and you will find that I am correct. Ask the people that live in the outer edges of Alaska. They come right into town looking for food. When this happens they are generally put down.

        • Oh man that was funny!

      • Well there should be a law against hunters breeding like rats especially if it’s with my farm animals.

      • Sarah witcher,salem

        Cow and global warming.30%

        • “Global warming”. Parrots R Us to the rescue!

          Is there a chance that some of the readers and/or commenters in here have a connection to a local radio station and is willing to put forth the effort to have Dane’s weekly broadcasts from Redding, broadcast locally – to get us up-to-speed on this misnomer?

          Geoengineering Watch Global Alert News, January 26, 2019, #181 ( Dane Wigington )
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIt-6FF28eY&t=591s 55 mins. January 26, 2019

          ” . . .he who controls the weather, controls the world”!

          Humboldt was heavily sprayed w/ the toxic death dumps in the sky yesterday. If you’re not too busy grazing to notice the shiny tag stapled to your ear – look up at all the X’s crisscrossing the sky above us.

      • Farm animals need to be corralled in safety at night. Good fences, barns and livestock guardians are a requirement for responsible ranching.

  • yay!

    I’m perfectly happy paying a couple cents extra for meat due to the occasional livestock predation to have more wolves running around.

    • It is not just money. What seems ignored the terrible suffering of animals torn apart and victims of sport killing when dozens are killed at once. Lions were killing several to eleven sheep a night locally until shot. That is sport killing. If you buy a dog for $1,000 and wolves kill it, would you feel it was not a problem if you got your money back? Would you not feel bad for the animals suffering? Ranchers want their animals to have as good a life as possible and to be humanely killed when it is time. Livestock feel stress to. They don’t eat and gain weight as they should when constantly on the lookout for predators, and fail to breed or abort.

  • I suggest that California institute a policy to pay ranchers in full for each animal they lose to wolves. With that in place, the hostility to prey animals might decrease. It seems only fair as the State or a federal government mandates the presence of such predators on land they don’t own.

    Hmm… I wonder if the County was held liable for each stray dog attack whether they might finally find the resources to enforce that law.

    • That seems like the only fair solution to transplanting an apex predator into ranching areas knowing their population would explode and expand then not giving ranchers any reasonable way to protect their stock.

      • maybe its time to end ranching in the national/state forest. it can’t be good for anything or anyone except the rancher that gets free land/feed.

        • I am a rancher and have to buy my land and feed for all my animals. How do you know they get free land and feed?

          • because its public land and the food the cows eat grows on that same public land. have you ever hiked in the Trinity’s, Sierra’s, etc? 99 years lease’s need to be a thing of the past. a lot changes in 99 years.

            • My land is owned by me and is private property, not public land. My land is in Humboldt County.

              • I understand that, I am referring to land where these wolves are introduced to, which is public land and has cows grazing on which may be eaten by the wolves. The West has public land leases for cattle on public land.

                • Yes, I realize that, but with time they will spread covering a huge part of public and private land.

                • It is one thing to allow wolves on public property, but they should not be forced upon private property if the owner does not want them there. About half of California is public property.

                  I sometimes read of Fish and wildlife or other agencies coming in and removing dangerous predators such as lions but have never seen the criteria they use to determine if they will respond and remove unwanted animals that are not legal to shoot without a permit. They are often removed in residential areas like subdivisions. Is it parcels over a certain acreage that they will not remove them?

          • Sarah witcher,salem

            Your soil fertility is wrecked.buy more land to destroy.culos.

        • Grazing animals, like cattle, help keep the fire danger low, as do goats and horses. I read about a young woman who had two of her horses, who she had been training for competition, attacked and badly injured by wolves. They survived, but had big scars. her father had called the game warden to report the crime. The young woman walked out of the barn with another horse, saddled and ready to go, and she was wearing a side arm and had a rifle in the saddle scabbard. The warden asked her what she was doing. She said she was going out to kill the wolves, and no one could stop her. He said they are endangered. She said yes they are, see my guns? He said she must stop. She told him to fuck off, and if he wants to help, he could pay the vet bill his fucking wolves caused. She left, killed two that afternoon. No one ever said a word to her. I love women like her.

        • That has to be one of the stupidest comments wolves are not only going to be on state and federal lands! Do you really think they read a sign saying private property!? No and I really hope each and every one of you that want to protect these Killing machines have to face off with one or a whole frigging pack! Get the non native species out of our stat.

          • sweet! where can we send your cows, cowgirl?

            -forthewild

          • Poster formerly known as Matt

            “Get the non native species out of our stat(e)”

            That would be all the humans of non-native descent and all the cows.

          • Look at idaho. They reintroduced Canadian greys and they have jumped all boundaries and mountains and have decimated the elk population. On my last hunting trip there my guide witnessed one pack kill 14 elk cows in a sitting and ate half of one, then moved on to the next ridge. Luckily I got my bull that year.

            • are the elk wild? this could be a trick question.

              • “Wild”. Yes. There used to be herds of rosavelt elk on the north coast of humboldt, back in the day. There used to be grizzlys throughout California. So to answer your question, like the wolves, most elk populations are reintroduced. There is one herd of rosavelt elk in the sinkyone wilderness. Buetiful animals. The ones in Idaho are wild , the third largest population for a state.

          • They are a native species. You are not.

          • Well said. Most of the comments make no common sense to me.

          • This species of wolf is native to California.

        • I agree. Cattle destroy forrested land with erosion and shitting in every spring they drink from. It used to cost ranchers $1.85 per head to graze them for the season in National Forrest in Wyoming, probably more now.

      • The reasonable ways to protect livestock are fences, livestock guardians, and barns.

        Ranchers only get away with current practice because they killed off the wolves in the first place.

        • hmm, you do not seem to understand these are GRAZING range animals, not animals in a barn, feedlot, or other confined area. I think you also mentioned corrals, which I take to mean a small area. How are animals going to graze locked up in a barn? Certainly a higher carbon footprint if hay has to be grown and harvested and fed in a barn than having livestock harvest the grass. And barns are not cheap to build. And many grazed areas are marginal steep ground, or small patches of scattered grass not suitable for a hay mower.

          Most sheep ranches in my area have went out of business due to coyotes killing over half the lamb crop for a few years until sheep ranching could no longer continue. I have seen properties subdivided, turned in to vineyards, or cattle ranches, when the coyotes came. Sheep are smaller and easier on the land than most other livestock but predators forced land use changes. Be careful what you wish for.

    • Ranchers do get paid back for animals lost to wolves. And it’s so minimal it’s not even an issue in regards to them losing money and animals.

    • and what then is to be done about cattle killed on Federal land, where the wolves will roam? BLM or USDA going to pay ranchers?

      -for the wild

      • As I said above, I’m willing to pay a few extra cents for my meat due to the extra costs to ranchers because of wolves. It’s worth it.

      • End all leasing of BLM land to ranchers. The ecological cost of cattle grazing is far too great to justify the leases.

  • So should we just go ahead put deer on the list now too?

    • Why? Deer populations are doing well. As they did before we killed off the wolves and will continue to do after the wolves return.

  • Epic should bring in all the endangered animals and put them in Sacramento. They will fit in great with all our government predators.

  • 🕯IWhen I was in the darkroom about a year ago or so a trail camera caught them first coming back from Oregon. I personally thought it was great,mother nature healing herself but like what’s already to start here and will continue is the hate of a creature that was here before us. I know ,like mountain lions, the fear the ranchers and those illegal growers might be feeling at this time. But with proper management, not guns, everyone should do just fine.

  • This is gonna be just like the cat situation. First they become endangered, then a few years down the line there are an abundance of cats everywhere even though you might not see them they are here. And then California and their liberal fish and game will never open the season up and we are stuck with too many wolves/ cats. History repeating it self just with a different species that’s just as dangerous or even more.

    • 🕯Why does it have to be the liberals? Usually it just people in charge.

    • Until the cat problem is fixed. Our California ecosystem can’t handle wolves also. There are so many cats now. You don’t even need dogs to hunt them. True outdoorsmen know & see what’s in the woods.

    • But there are not “too many” lions. Maybe there too many for your personal taste, but not from an ecological perspective. Populations of predators are limited by prey abundance.

  • Maybe CA should talk to states like ID, WY, MT where wolf populations are exploding. Now they are seeing a steep decline in Elk and Mule deer population do to reintroduction of Wolves in these areas. Thus now they have Wolf hunting seasons with quotas they are having trouble meeting.

    • I’d guess that more deer are killed by cars in CA than any wolf or mountain lion carnage could ever bring. What’s with the hysterical level of fear mongering over this story? I’m in a forest in Mendocino county. The amount of turkeys and deer is very very large. We get rare reports of mountain lions spotted here or there, but jeez, they’re sure not doing any damage to our deer/turkey population. I’ve lived here for almost 20 years, and I’ve not seen a single story of livestock killed by a mountain lion (and certainly not by wolves), I have seen many stories about loose dogs mauling livestock to death. The one mountain lion I’ve seen since living here was hit by a car on 101, that’s a long ass time to not see something that’s supposedly having a population explosion. Especially for someone who hikes way out in the uninhabited forests here.

      Wolves breed like rats, yeah, okay.

    • Given as I’m having to dodge dear all fucking day all year round these days, anything that reduces their population would be a rather good thing.

    • Native ungulate populations returning to historic norms may be disappointing for hunters what is a sign of a ecological balance returning.

  • If they can find one wolf in the wilderness can we all agree Bigfoot is a myth?

  • 🕯Look there’s been more people on here complaining than on the article about starting the controlled burns agian.

  • Is this the solution to the homeless problem?

  • what could possibly go wrong?
    Another reason to carry metal.

  • I am all for the wolves being here, but it is comical (surely not to the farmers) how many cattle they eat. I saw the list of confirmed or suspected kills in Lassen county, and it averages about one every 2 weeks, about as often as a wolf pack need to kill to eat. My guess is they are EXCLUSIVELY eating cattle because it’s such an easy meal. For all the stupid stuff we spend our tax money on, I think we can collectively afford $500 to the ranchers every two weeks.

    • 🕯👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾👑

    • Fuck the ranchers. End of the export of beef and only allow production of beef for domestic consumption then a lot of this problem suddenly goes away.

      The entire practice of ranching in the western states is a disgusting mess that’s only been perpetuated because of depredation.

      • I don’t know how depredation (presumably you are speaking of that by wolves) has any effect on perpetuating ranching. Regardless, only 20% of our beef is exported (actually more, but it’s offset by imports), so I don’t think reducing exports will have a significant effect on the environment. I generally see beef production as a bad (I myself stopped eating beef for that reason) but I definitely don’t have anything against the ranchers themselves or blame them for the issue. People like beef and they are just meeting the demand. It’s also a classic NIMBY issue. Sure we reduce our production, but it’s just going to increase it elsewhere in the world. We’re best off trying to find sustainable solutions here where we have an eco-friendly conscious.

        • The fewer the numbers of home grown grass fed cattle on rural ranches, due to wolves and other predators, the higher the numbers will be in the factorized ‘feed lots’.

    • Until they multiply by leaps and bounds?

      • They will never multiply by leaps and bounds. They’re territorial animals (meaning they kill their own) and the historic elk herds they would have fed on are all but gone. I do think the ranchers will figure something out as far as protecting their herds, and hopefully the state will compensate them for it.

  • Cattle grazing ruined the west. To heck with cattle. Read some Ed Abbey to get informed.

    Go wolves go! I hope they breed like crazy and humans leave them alone. People don’t belong in wilderness IMHO. So if a wolf bites you in the butt too bad.

  • Wolves, lions and bears should be introduced into Arcata, Golden Gate Park and Disneyland so city people can enjoy wildlife up close and personal.

  • Awesome! But don’t stop here.
    Can we bring back grizzly bears too?
    Now that’s exciting.

  • They are legal game in the state of Jefferson!!! So are cats!!

  • If you like loose dogs running around mauling livestock and wildlife, you’ll love wolves.

  • Can we bring back indigenous people? Then we can list them as endangered species also. Seams to me to be the same thing.

  • Why wan’t this put to ballot?
    Who funds the lobbyists that pushed this?

    • ~good read on that site. As a commenter (sp?) asked the other day – “Why can’t we collectively get out sh!it together and act on the problems we describe, and know, in here”? <<paraphrased. Wish i knew the answer.
      We can all (most of us in here), see the writing on the wall. History repeats itself -not too hard to figure out.

      "We have all been here before".

  • A small amount of wolves might be living in northern CA, and so many are losing their damn minds.

    Oh, and to the guy posting about wolves in Alaska. I lived there for a few years, no, not one single story on wolves killing a human. Bears, oh yeah, they did, but hey if you go into the wildenerness hunting bears or other wildlife, in heavy bear country, that’s gonna happen. There were many stories of wolves being hunted by aircraft. Now that’s manly. The skins were sold to tourists. I’m guessing the wolves were mainly killed by hunting tourists, and the Palins.

    I also really enjoy the posts from people, hunting in whatever state, decrying the shortage of elk for them to shoot. Not a word about how many humans are killing, legally or not. it’s all the damn wolves decimating the elk population! Hit by cars and or poaching isn’t doing any harm to the elk population. It’s all wolves and cougars doing the most harm.

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