Gray Wolf Identified in Kern County, California

A gray wolf in Kern County, California on May 15, 2021 - photo: screen shot from trail camera video, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

News Brief

Last week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) received trail camera video dated May 15, 2021. The brief video shows a collared gray wolf in southwest Kern County.

While CDFW has yet to confirm the wolf’s identity, it is possible it could be OR-93 based on video evidence of the collar and the last known whereabouts of OR-93 (San Luis Obispo County on April 5, 2021).

Even though the video is more than three months old, CDFW says it will immediately investigate the area for additional information in hopes of finding wolf DNA for analysis. CDFW also said it will conduct flyovers to attempt to connect to the collar through radio telemetry.

The trail camera has been recording wildlife use at a water trough on private property for three years. The caretaker of the property reset the camera in April, but CDFW officials did not see the images until this week.

CDFW strongly encourages the public to be aware that the wolf population continues to grow in California and to know the difference between wolves and coyotes. Though gray wolves are generally much bigger than coyotes, they can sometimes be misidentified. The agency encourages the public to review tips for differentiating between wolves, coyotes and dogs. And though the video was black and white, wolf OR-93 also has a purple collar around his neck which should make the animal more identifiable.

Gray wolves are listed as endangered under California’s Endangered Species Act (CESA). It is unlawful to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap or capture gray wolves.

Anyone who believes they have seen a wolf in California can report it to CDFW.

Gray wolves pose very little safety risk to humans. 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.

Gray wolf management in California is guided by CESA as well as CDFW’s Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California, finalized in 2016. More information is available on CDFW’s wolf web page.

Wolf OR-93, a male wolf born in 2019 who made headlines earlier this year, initially entered Modoc County on January 30, 2021. After briefly returning to Oregon, he reentered Modoc County on February 4. On February 24, he entered Alpine County after passing through portions of Lassen, Plumas, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Amador and Calaveras counties. On February 25, he entered Mono County. In mid-March, he was in western Tuolumne County. By late March he was in Fresno County, and then entered San Benito County after crossing Highway 99 and Interstate 5. He was in Monterey County on April 1 and his last collar transmission was from San Luis Obispo County on April 5. Through April 5 he had traveled at least 935 air miles in California, a minimum average of 16 air miles per day. OR-93 dispersed from the White River pack in northern Oregon.