According to the LA Times, there has been a sighting of a gray wolf in the Giant Sequoia National Monument in southern California for the first time in over a century. Michelle Harris, who observed the wolf in early July, described a substantial, gray canid crossing a fire road in the vicinity.
Harris recounted the extraordinary encounter, noting, “Then it tilted its head back and let out a substantial howl. All I could think was, ‘It doesn’t resemble a coyote, but it must be, right?'”
Subsequent examination of tracks, hair, and scat left behind confirmed that the animal was a female gray wolf, the leader of what is now known as the Tulare Pack, as detailed in the LA Times.
Accompanying the female were four offspring, two males and two females. DNA analysis revealed that they are direct descendants of the renowned wolf OR-7, who, in 2011, became California’s first wolf in 90 years.
Environmentalists expressed enthusiasm over the reappearance of wolves in the area and called on the U.S. Forest Service to temporarily suspend logging projects in the region until their impact on these endangered wolves can be evaluated.
However, not everyone is pleased with this development. The LA Times reports that logging companies are reluctant to halt their projects, and livestock owners are apprehensive about their animals falling prey to these sizable predators.
This same apprehension of livestock predation was the driving force behind the extermination of wolves across the U.S. in the 19th and 20th centuries. Regrettably, the removal of apex predators had unforeseen consequences on the environment, leading to burgeoning deer and elk populations.
As observed in Yellowstone National Park, the absence of wolves had a profound impact on the entire ecosystem and landscape, and their reintroduction could aid in restoring balance.
For farmers and ranchers, California already has a compensation system in place to reimburse owners for livestock losses due to wolf predation, as disclosed by the LA Times.
While humans grapple with their response to the new wolf pack, Harris suggested that the wolves themselves might have moved on. She commented, “I haven’t noticed any recent signs of the pack since July. There has been increased activity in the area since then. Perhaps they have relocated to a quieter area with more space to roam.”