The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced the safe and successful capture and collar of two gray wolves in Siskiyou County. The two wolves were captured March 17, fitted with satellite collars, measured and sampled for DNA and disease surveillance, and safely released back to the wild.
“The capture of these wolves is fantastic since we lost the only functioning satellite collar last summer, and ground capture efforts since then have been unsuccessful,” said Kent Laudon, a senior environmental scientist and CDFW’s wolf specialist. “A lot of people have worked hard to make this happen and we’re excited about the new collars and data. We’re already seeing interesting movements on agriculture lands and sharing that information with local folks to install fladry and other deterrent measures around cattle pastures.”
One of the captured wolves was OR85, a four-year-old black, 98-pound male originally collared by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in February 2020 in northeastern Oregon. OR85 dispersed from his natal pack in 2020, making it to Siskiyou County in November of that year. OR85 paired with a gray female wolf that had dispersed from a pack in southwestern Oregon to form the Whaleback Pack in Siskiyou County. The pair produced litters of seven pups in 2021 and eight pups in 2022.
Capture teams, using a contracted helicopter and capture crew and fixed-wing aircraft from CDFW’s Air Services Unit, were able to locate the wolves through intermittent signals coming from OR85’s original collar, which was thought to be non-functioning. CDFW crews removed OR85’s original collar and replaced it with a new unit.
The other wolf captured and collared was a black, 97-pound, yearling male from the 2021 litter.
The capture and collar effort, which began last month, marks the first time CDFW has used helicopters to capture and collar gray wolves. The capture and collar of gray wolves is an important management and research tool, along with other tools and methods, used throughout the West to help monitor populations, understand landscape use patterns and minimize livestock conflicts.
Each morning, under optimal conditions, the satellite collars will transmit four new locations to CDFW since the previous day’s download. Ground capture attempts to collar additional wolves will resume later this spring.