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Taft Midway Driller - Taft, CA
  • California prepares for wolves: Fish and Wildlife decides how to respond to reports of wolves

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  • On Dec 4, someone reported seeing two wolves crossing Oberlin Road in Yreka.
    The Yreka Police Department investigated, and what they found were wolf-husky hybrids, according to Chief Brian Bowles.
    While wolves may not yet call Siskiyou County home, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is planning for the day that the controversial animals may one day migrate permanently to the Golden State.
    "The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has no plans to introduce gray wolves into California," said Karen Kovacs, wildlife program manager for CDFW's northern region.
    To be more specific, Kovacs noted that this lack of plan extends to the entire species canis lupus, so subspecies – including the Mexican gray wolf – will not be making their way into California as part of any organized effort either.
    "Today, we have no wolves that we are aware of or have confirmed," Kovacs said.
    However, with wolf populations becoming more established in the surrounding Western states, the CDFW is preparing proactive measures should a pack ever migrate into the state.
    According to Kovacs, the Fish and Game Commission will be considering a petition to list gray wolves under the California Endangered Species Act.
    She said discussion is scheduled for the commission's February meeting in Sacramento but added that plans could change between then and now.
    Whenever that discussion finds its way into a meeting, Kovacs said, the public would be provided an opportunity to voice its opinions and concerns.
    The CDFW has also put together a Federal/State Coordination Plan for possible gray wolf activity in the state.
    The plan states it is "not a gray wolf management plan or a gray wolf recovery plan;" instead, it is "to prepare for a coordinated and effective response to possible situations involving a wolf."
    These actions include responses to investigating reports of wolf activity, a dead wolf, a captured or injured wolf, and wolf-caused depredation to livestock or other animals.
    In the case of livestock depredation, the plan lists the steps to be taken by Wildlife Services, as well as actions that can be taken by the reporter to maintain evidence, such as placing a tarp over the carcass and covering tracks and scat on scene.
    "These folks are very experienced in determining cause and type of death," Kovacs said.
    No method of reimbursement for livestock depredation resulting from wolf attacks exists in California, Kovacs said.
    In April 2012, CDFW also organized the California Gray Wolf Stakeholder Group.
    Kovacs said the group counted among its representatives sportsmen, agriculturists and environmentalist, among others.
    The group's goal is to maintain engagement with the various stakeholders to collect information and secure adequate funding in the preparation of a management plan, as noted on CDFW's website.
    Page 2 of 2 - A wolf-livestock interactions subgroup was also formed. The subgroup's aim is "building a wolf-livestock management strategy with consensus by the various stakeholders," as noted on its September meeting report.
    In devising its strategy, the subgroup has looked to Western states to see how different kinds of livestock are affected by the introduction of wolves.
    "Having their input here in California will make it a better plan," Kovacs said, adding, "We really tried to have representatives from rural counties in Northern California."
    Reports and documents from the CDFW's gray wolf preparation activities can be found on its website at http://goo.gl/Gofk5L.
    Holiday wolf
    Famed lone wolf OR-7 returned to California on Dec. 7. According to CDFW, his radio collar pinged in northern Siskiyou County, his first trip back since March.
    OR-7's trip was short-lived ,and he was back in Oregon by Dec. 9; however, a 2011 CDFW report suggests that Oregon packs could spread into California as this "dynamic" and "mobile" species becomes better established.
    The possibility of wolves returning to California has not gone unnoticed by Siskiyou County residents.
    The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors has written two letters on the issue.
    In September 2012, the board sent a letter to Jim Kellogg of the FW Commission, requesting he reject the petition to list wolves under CESA.
    The board also sent a letter in October supporting the delisting of the gray wolf from the federal endangered list.
    During the board's Nov. 5 meeting, Supervisor Marcia Armstrong expressed concerns over wolves and predators with regards to public safety and in places where the economy centered on agriculture and livestock production.
    She also noted Siskiyou County's push for cycle tourism as an issue with regard to the species, saying the two were "not compatible."
    "The introduction of the Mexican gray wolf is going to have some potential effects on us in the future, and we need to be ahead of that curve," Supervisor Michael Kobseff said.
    The deadline for public comment on the proposed federal de-listing of the gray wolf is today by 11:59 p.m. Information on the proposal and a link to submit electronic comments can be found at www.fws.gov/home/wolfrecovery/.

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