by Tracie Cone
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — State scientists say the lone wolf roaming far Northern California should be considered a candidate for listing under the state endangered species act.
A report from the Department of Fish and Game released Wednesday called the presence of the gray wolf that crossed the border from Oregon last December an “historic and a scientific certainty.” The report says that other wolves could migrate to form breeding populations.
“Whether one is for or against listing wolves as threatened or endangered … one must acknowledge the fact that the arrival of wolf OR7 in our state was an historic event,” said Jordan Traverso, deputy director of communications for the department.
The report was presented Wednesday to members of the California Fish and Game Commission, which will decide in October whether to accept the recommendation.
The agency acted on a petition for listing filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups. Some groups at the meeting urged commission members to consider that listing the wolf would help protect it from poaching, which has been a problem in other Western states.
“Illegal poaching has caused 24 percent of all wolf deaths,” Pamela Flick of Defenders of Wildlife told commissioners. “State listing may not prevent all killings, but it may prevent some.”
State wildlife biologists believe that the lone wolf who crossed into Northern California from Oregon last December could eventually be joined by others. Favorable terrain and the presence of mule deer and other food sources could sustain a pack, biologists said.
The idea that a pack could establish itself concerns Modoc County cattle rancher Billy Flournoy. He isn’t worried about this wolf, which he has heard is unhealthy and living off of dead animals. He just hopes the state never tries to reintroduce wolves, which were killed off in California in the 1920s.
“I don’t think this one is hurting anything. I think he’s lost and doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Flournoy said. “But I really think Fish and Game has a heck of a lot more to do than worry about one wolf.”