Wolf Seen Near Yosemite for First Time in Over 100 Years

by Jon D. B.
wolf-seen-near-yosemite-for-first-time-in-over-100-years

The development is both intriguing and exciting, as the young male is only the 16th gray wolf seen in California since the 1920s.

Southern Californians: welcome OR-93 to your lands. This remarkable young male wolf is now in Mono County east of Yosemite national Park – making him the southernmost member of his species in the state’s “modern times,” CA’s Center for Biological Diversity states.

“Given the time of year, we assume OR-93 has traveled such a long way in search of a mate,” says Amaroq Weiss, the Center for Biological Diversity’s wolf advocate. “I hope he can find one,” Weiss adds in his public statement for the organization.

How far has OR-93 traveled, exactly? His callsign is a big clue. Young OR-93 began life in the White River pack of Oregon (OR) state. His home territory lies south of Mount Hood, OR, where he was outfitted with a tracking collar as a young pup. Tracking devices like 93’s purple collar help wildlife officials monitor the lives, habits, and territories of grey wolves.

Or, in OR-93’s case – their remarkable journeys.

OR-93 “quickly traveled hundreds of miles…”

According to the SFGate, the young wolf began his incredible trek after departing Oregon early in 2021. Like many maturing grey wolves, he likely set out in search of his own territory. Then, in early February, 93 was tracked to Modoc County in Northern California. From here, the trade adds he “quickly traversed hundreds of miles” into the South, “trotting between Sierra state highways 4 and 208.”

Now, OR-93 calls Mono County home, just east of Yosemite National Park. Before his stay near the famous park, the Lake Tahoe Basin was the furthest south any grey wolf had been spotted in modern times. This was achieved by OR-54, another Oregon wolf who traveled back north after his stay.

To put this into perspective, there’s at least a 200 mile difference between the two locations of OR-93 and his predecessor OR-54. In short: OR-93’s presence in Mono Co. is truly remarkable.

California and the Wolf: A Brief History

As for their absence in the state, the gray wolf was hunted to extinction by the 1920s across all of California. Farmers were ruthless hunters of the species in the 1800s forward, marking the canines for their threat to livestock.

Since these radically different times 100 years ago, only 16 wolves have been documented in California. OR-93 is that 16th gray wolf.

This does not, however, mean that wolves have completely disappeared from California. “The state has two wolf packs — although one disappeared in 2015,” SFGate explains.

“The Lassen pack has reproduced each year since 2017, but the Shasta pack only had pups in 2015. That year, a breeding pair had five pups and a few months later, fell off the map,” the trade continues.

Yet, as wolves often do, one of these CA pups left in search of his own territory. As a result, “one of the then-grown pups was found in Nevada in 2016.”

Perhaps OR-93 will find himself a mate and territory in the state. If so, he could go a long way in helping these existing wolf packs thrive. So long as he stays, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will monitor his presence in the state.

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