State board votes to protect gray wolf
grey wolf pups
The Associated Press

California officials de­cided Wednesday to add the gray wolf to the state’s endangered species list, ex­tending protections to the animal.

The state’s Fish and Game Commission voted 3-1 at a meeting in For­tuna in favor of the listing, which will keep the animal safe from hunters’ cross­hairs. The decision requires a second vote in August to become final.

The debate over whether to list the wolf pitted cattle ranchers, who consider the predator a threat to valu­able herds, against those who wish to see the packs again flourish.

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 against sending a letter in support of the listing last week.

Third District Super­visor Mark Lovelace, who cast the dissenting vote, said the state needs to plan ahead to address potential conflicts with Northern California seeing its first wolf since 1924.

Several members of the public said that the county should not support reintro­ducing a species known to cause problems, including ranchers who also attended the Fortuna meeting on Wednesday along with en­vironmentalists who sup­ported the listing.

“We are very concerned about listing the wolf under the California Endangered Species Act,” Justin Old­field, vice president of gov­ernmental relationships for the California Cattle­men’s Association, said be­fore the vote.

Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diver­sity, which leads the push for protection, said there are places where wolves and livestock exist together.

“There are definitely av­enues for not only tolerat­ing wolves, but accepting wolves,” she said. “This was their home before it was ours.”

Nationwide, bounty hunt­ing and poisoning drove wolves to widespread exter­mination in the early 1900s. They have rebounded in re­cent decades, and federal protections have been lifted in the last several years in the Northern Rockies and western Great Lakes.

The state commission decided to put off a deci­sion at a meeting in April, wishing first to hear more public comment.

The debate comes into fo­cus as a lone wolf — named OR-7 — began roaming into Northern California from Oregon in 2011.

That’s when the wolf was the seventh in Oregon to be fitted with a GPS tracking collar. He and his mate have produced pups. Biologists made the determination after traveling Monday to a site in the Rogue River-Sis­kiyou National Forest east of Medford, where photos and a GPS tracking collar showed the wolf known as OR-7 has been living with a mate.

They saw two pups peer­ing out from a pile of logs and may have heard more, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon De­partment of Fish and Wild­life said.