California Wolf: A Lone Wolf in the Golden State

In 1924, an emaciated, three-legged wolf was caught by government trapper Frank W. Kaehler, 1 mile east of Litchfield, California. The wolf was believed to have straggled into the Golden State from Oregon or northern Nevada. This was the last wild wolf ever found in California.

88 years later, in the north east corner of Oregon, a male wolf known as OR7 strayed from his pack and began a thousand mile journey to find a new home, taking him across eastern Oregon and into the Cascade Mountains, before heading south and crossing into California in late December.

His California journey took him past Lava Beds National Monument then south towards Shasta Lake and Interstate-5 before turning east towards the Warner Mountions. OR7 spent several days near the Warner’s before heading south towards the desert. This was the southern most point in his journey, and also his closest brush with the history and fate of his kind in California, for OR7 was only a few miles from where that last wild wolf had been caught in 1924.

A month after entering California, OR7 is still wandering the plains and forest of Lassen County, a lone wolf looking for a mate.

What happens when one wolf comes into the most populated state in the country? In the 1920’s, both the California Grizzly and the Gray Wolf were extirpated from California. Today, the grizzly can only be found on the state flag, but the wolf has come back home.

What will 37 million Californians think of this new arrival?

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