VIDEO: Three New Wolf Pups Sighted in Northeast California

California’s only known wolf pack has at least three new pups, according to a report by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Trail cameras in Lassen County recorded the pups, as well as two or three adult wolves, in June.

Grey wolves first came to California in this century. On December 28, 2011, a single grey wolf with a radio collar crossed the Oregon/California border into California history. Named OR-7, the wolf was the first confirmed grey wolf in the state since 1924, when the last known wolf in California was trapped and killed in Lassen County. OR-7 became famous — and for some, notorious — as people debated what the return of the predators would mean for agriculture.

Kent Laudon, a wolf specialist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife who has studied the animals for 22 years, says he recognizes that wolves can cause challenges for people who own livestock. He tries hard to work with producers to find solutions like fladry fencing or behavioral management of herds, he says, so that wolves and people can coexist.

“I know wolves pretty well,” he said, “but then the producer knows their cattle pretty well… is there something in [the agricultural operation] that we can do to deter conflict? And that serves everybody well. And so what’s good for people, then, is… good for wolves as well.”

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“Having wolves return to California is one of the most significant environmental developments in conservation in this state,” said Amaroq Weiss, an advocate for West Coast wolves with the Center for Biological Diversity.

In March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would seek to delist grey wolves as an endangered species in most of the lower 48 states. During the proposal's comment period which ended July 15, the proposal drew opposition from 100 scientists, members of Congress, and, according to environmental groups, 1.8 million comments from members of the public, though numbers on the actual proposal are lower, possibly due to duplicate comments being removed.

Although wolves remain protected under California’s Endangered Species Act, Weiss says maintaining federal endangered status is crucial, since many of California’s wolves come from other states that might not have similar protection at the state level.

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