A gray wolf has made its way to central Fresno County, continuing to travel farther south in the state than GPS-collared wolves that preceded him, California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife announced.
Known as OR-93, the wolf has been tracked along a lengthy path in the past few weeks, according to an agency news release Monday.
The wolf moved through Mono County, then Tuolumne, Mariposa, Merced and Madera counties. OR-93’s last collar reading showed it was in agricultural areas in central Fresno County.
In early February, OR-93 had been tracked to Modoc County on the California-Oregon border.
It is a young male from Oregon’s White River pack, located southeast of Mt. Hood. He was fitted with a purple tracking collar in June 2020 and left his pack apparently in search of new territory and a mate.
Gray wolves are listed as an endangered, making it unlawful to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap or capture them.
Is it dangerous?
The species pose very little safety risk to humans, the state agency says.
“CDFW is working to monitor and conserve California’s small wolf population and is collaborating with livestock producers and diverse stakeholders to minimize wolf-livestock conflicts,” the agency stated in a news release.
A wolf known as OR-54 was reported to have spent her summers of 2018 and 2019 in Plumas and Sierra counties and was documented traveling as far as Nevada County. At the time, that was the farthest south a wolf had been seen.
A coyote or wolf: Here’s the difference
Gray wolves are generally much bigger than coyotes, Fish and Wildlife stated, but they can sometimes be misidentified.
Anyone who believes they have seen a wolf in California can report it to the CDFW website.
The agency offers guidance on how to tell the difference between wolves, coyotes and wild or stray dogs. OR-93’s purple collar also would make the animal more identifiable.
“Since Oregon wolf OR-7 entered California in late 2011, several radio collared wolves have dispersed into the state,” Fish and Wildlife’s gray wolf page states, “an unknown number of uncollared wolves, and two breeding packs have formed.”