California Gives ESA Protections to Lone Wolf and His PupsPosted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on June 4, 2014
Fantastic news! The California Fish and Game Commission voted today to protect wolves under our state Endangered Species Act (ESA). California’s lone wolf, known as “OR-7,” aka “Journey,” is a male gray wolf who has roamed our northern mountains for several years, unprotected until now under the ESA. For years, we feared for Journey’s safety, particularly because shameful “coyote killing contests” are bad for wolves who are easily mistaken for coyotes and bad for the thousands of coyotes slaughtered each year nationwide. Now, with these new protections for wolves at least, killing a wolf in California carries a punishment of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to a year in the county jail, under the state’s Fish and Game code.
But today is a good news day for wolves—and not just because of the long-awaited protections under the ESA. Just hours before this announcement from the commission, it was confirmed that Journey has had pups!
The lone wolf now has a pack, and Journey and his family will be protected under state law. He has traveled thousands of miles throughout Oregon and Northern California and is the first and only wolf in California since 1924. He has been tracked in Shasta County, Siskiyou County, and Oregon’s Klamath County—and is perhaps the most well-known wolf in the United States and beyond. In fact, recently he was the subject of documentary called OR-7, which screened in Portland just last month.
Huge kudos goes to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) who has fought hard on this issue—and submitted a petition in 2012. As CBD knows, it’s not just good news for Journey: its good news for the future of our wild habitats and the wildlife who inhabit them—because gray wolves are a central part of the biodiversity of California’s mountainous northern ecosystems. The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, crossing the boundary between California and Oregon, is a breathtaking, outstanding natural resource. In fact, it holds the largest concentration of intact watersheds and untouched wilderness on the Pacific coast, covers 10 million acres, and is defined by the mighty Rogue River watershed.
Congratulations Journey and pups! Slán abhaile, as they say in Irish. Safe journey home.