SAN FRANCISCO, July 28, 2018 — California’s only known existing wolf family, the Lassen pack, has produced its second litter of pups.
An article published by the Plumas County News yesterday reported that California Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf biologist Kent Laudon told Plumas County officials at a July 17th meeting that the pack has up to five new pups this year.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently signaled its intention to strip legal protections from wolves across the country, including California and Oregon, which houses the source population for California’s wolves. That would place any future wolf recovery in grave danger.
“We’re thrilled the Lassen pack had these adorable pups, who will breathe new life into wolf recovery in the Golden State,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity. “These little ones are hopeful symbols at a time when the Trump administration is about to strip wolves across the country of protections that are crucial to their survival.”
The Lassen pack was first confirmed a year ago, when a Forest Service trail camera captured images of the adult mother wolf playing with several pups. At the Plumas County meeting, Laudon reported that in addition to having up to five new pups, the pack also consists of the three yearlings from last year plus the adult male and female wolf, bringing the pack’s number up to 10 individuals. Wolves tend to stay with their birth-pack the first few years of their lives before dispersing to seek mates and their own territory.
The Lassen pack is only California’s second confirmed pack in nearly 100 years. The Shasta pack, a family of seven wolves, was confirmed in 2015 but by 2016 had mysteriously disappeared.
“Wolves started recovering in West Coast states only because they were protected,” said Weiss. “With the Fish and Wildlife Service about to remove federal safeguards, the inspiring story of wolf recovery in California could tragically be cut short.”
The breeding male of the Lassen pack is the son of famous Oregon wolf OR-7, who came to California in 2011, the first confirmed wild wolf in the state in 87 years. OR-7 spent 15 consecutive months in the Golden State before returning to southwestern Oregon where he eventually found a mate, and has sired pups each year since 2014.
The Lassen pack male, born into the 2014 litter, made his way into California on his own. His mate is radio-collared, and her collar signals show that the Lassen pack’s territory includes parts of Lassen and Plumas Counties. At least two female offspring of OR-7 also have ventured into California, including OR-54, whose travels recently landed her almost at Lake Tahoe.