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Gray wolf from Oregon enters Monterey County

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION) UPDATED 4/2/2021 5:47 p.m. A gray wolf from Oregon is making his way across California and was recently tracked to Monterey County, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

CDFW told KION this is significant because this is as far south as they've seen a gray wolf travel into their historic habitat since one returned back in 2011.

The species is native to California but the CDFW said they were wiped out from the area back in the 1920s.

The gray wolf is listed as an endangered species in California.

The young wolf, known as OR-93, left his pack in Oregon, likely looking for a new territory or a mate, according to CDFW.

“We hope that it’s a sign of positive habitat management and maybe applying the right regulations,” CDFW Deputy Director of Communications Jordan Traverso said.

A GPS collar is tracking his journey south into California. As of April 1st, the tracker indicates the wolf is in Monterey County and before that, San Benito County.

Humane Wildlife Control President and CEO Rebecca Dmytryk said she was excited to hear that the wolf moved into the area.

“I’m cheering it on, and I just hope that people with pets that might be vulnerable, or especially ranchers with livestock, that they will take the necessary preventive steps so that there is no conflict,” Dmytryk said.

While CDFW said the wolves pose little risk to humans, they are carnivores and present potential risks to livestock and dogs.

Traverso acknowledges news of the wolf may come as a concern for cattle ranchers or animal owners but she said she doesn’t believe a lone wolf can cause a significant amount of loss, as a pack might.

“What’s probably happening is this wolf is living right now off of rabbits, rodents, potentially coyotes, you know, he’s not in an urban area,” Traverso said. “That said, I think it’s always wise to keep your pets in at night, to not keep pet food out, don’t feed wildlife."

Traverso also said to keep livestock caged and protected.

To protect livestock, CDFW says you can hang flags around fencing or install predator deterrent lights.

Dmytryk also recommends guardian dogs or special fencing.

"It really comes down to the will. If somebody really wants to not kill this wolf, there are ways to protect your livestock from these animals," Dmytryk said.

Hunting, harassing or capturing a gray wolf is illegal. Violators could face fines of up to $50,000 or jail time.

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The California Department of Fish and Wildlife shared an update on a gray wolf traveling through California, and a collar reading shows that he has entered Monterey County.

The wolf was previously in San Benito County, but it has also passed through Modoc, Tuolomne, Mariposa, Merced, Madera and Fresno counties.

Gray wolf tracked to San Benito County

The Department of Fish and Wildlife says the wolf is from the White River pack in Oregon, which is southeast of Mt. Hood. He left his pack to look for new territory or a mate. According to Rebecca Dmytryk with Humane Wildlife Control, the wolf referred to as OR-93, is about 2 years old and was first fitted with a tracking collar in June.

Dmytryk says it appears that the wolf has traveled more than 600 miles and the farthest south any wolf has been tracked since the last wild one in California was killed in 1924 during an extermination campaign.

"Things are a little different now, at least in California,” Dmytryk said. “I think a majority of Californians are thrilled at the prospect of wolves reclaiming their ancestral territory. Most ranchers, though, still consider wolves, enemies."

As the wolf moves into Monterey County, Dmytryk is encouraging ranchers and hobby farmers to take measures to protect their animals.

Gray wolves are listed as an endangered species, so the Department of Fish and Wildlife says it is illegal to harass them, hurt them, trap them or kill them. The department says they pose very little risk to humans.

KION's Elisha Machado will have more details on the gray wolf's journey tonight on KION News at 5 and 6.

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.

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