Last summer, trail cameras recorded photos of the first wolf pack in California in almost 100 years.
A few years earlier, a single wolf with a radio collar wandered into the state for a few months before returning to Oregon. Not long after the discovery of our newest wolf pack, on November 10, 2015 the California Department of Fish & Wildlife investigated its first recorded “Wolf Depredation Incident” and concluded that the death of a rancher’s calf was a “probable” wolf fatality. Now it looks as though we do indeed have our very own resident wolf pack in the Golden State.
Last week another single wolf with a radio collar wandered down from Oregon. Apparently it’s pretty standard behavior for young wolves to roam far from their original home in search of a possible mate. As you might expect, reactions to the news of California’s very own wolf pack are mixed. Although some groups like the Center for Biodiversity and Defenders of Wildlife are delighted with the news, other groups like The California Cattleman’s Association and the California Farm Bureau are far less thrilled. For some odd reason cattlemen just don’t seem to like wolves. They’re not too big on coyotes, bears, or mountain lions either.
Think about it, a livestock raiser, whether it be cattle, sheep or goats, invests a considerable amount of time and money in producing an animal large enough to sell. Hopefully, when they do sell a year old critter they make enough money to cover their costs and make a small profit. Every time a predator kills a calf, it probably represents at least a $1,000 loss to the cattleman. You can’t sustain too many of those losses before you’re bankrupt. On the other side of the coin are the environmental groups who believe that man is the intruder into the natural world and that we need all sorts of creatures out there to maintain the balance of nature.
Like everything else in modern life, there are competing interests vying for power and control in Sacramento and Washington. It appears to be a delicate balancing act with each player trying their best to get as much as they can. Unfortunately, we ordinary folks usually lie somewhere in the middle. While I enjoy hearing the serenade of coyotes out my window, I also don’t want my grandkids ambushed by a lion or wolf when I’m out camping. The Department of Fish & Wildlife has held a series of stakeholder meetings with many of the affected groups. After all the interest group input, DFW has come up with a draft “Wolf Management Plan” on how to deal with the issue of wolves in California. Now they want your input.
You can go online to the State of California’s Department Of Fish & Wildlife website and follow the prompts to read the tentative draft plan. If you have specific suggestions on how to manage our new wolf population, this is your chance to have your voice heard. For more info contact DFW or you can always drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be glad to pass your observations along for you.
Until next time, Tight Lines.
Don Moyer is a longtime Central Valley resident and avid outdoorsman. He contributes occasional columns.