The California Fish and Game Commission has voted to move forward with listing the gray wolf as an endangered species under state law. The vote took place last month with three commissioners voting for the listing and one voting against (the fifth member was absent).
The decision provides permanent protection for the gray wolf and immediate protection under the California Endangered Species Act.
At this time, there are no gray wolves known to be in California. A male wolf that originated in northeastern Oregon — identified as OR7 and also known as Journey — has crossed the Oregon-California state line several times since December 2011. OR7 is the first confirmed wolf in western Oregon since 1947 and the first in California since 1924.
Since the wolf left his pack in September 2011, he has wandered more than 1,000 miles through Oregon and Northern California. Wolves were reintroduced into the Rocky Mountains in the 1990s.
At this time, OR7 is in southwestern Oregon, where he has found a mate and, on June 3, biologists from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife captured photographs of two wolf pups in the vicinity.
The gray wolf is already federally listed as an endangered species and is therefore protected by the federal Endangered Species Act in California, which makes it unlawful to “take” — meaning harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect — any listed wildlife unless permitted by regulation. The protection provided under federal law overlaps, but does not supersede, protection provided by listing under California law.