Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wolves’ Arrival in California Spurs Calls for Management

Photographic evidence of a pack of gray wolves in Northern California has ranchers concerned that the predators are becoming established in California, and that the state lacks a plan to allow ranchers to protect their livestock against wolf predation. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released multiple photos last week showing what it has named the "Shasta Pack": a group of two gray-wolf adults and five pups in Siskiyou County. It is the first confirmed sighting of gray wolves in the state since a lone wolf, OR7, entered California in late 2011; that wolf has not been in the state for more than a year. It is also the state's first wolf pack since the species' extirpation more than 90 years ago. Announcement of the wolf discovery comes more than a year after the California Fish and Game Commission voted to list the gray wolf under the state Endangered Species Act, making it illegal to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, kill or attempt any of those actions in California. The gray wolf is also protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. Ranchers said they were disappointed in the state ESA listing and remain concerned about the impact wolves would have on their livestock should they become established in the state. The wolves' arrival has led DFW to delay release of a draft management plan that ranchers hope would outline tools they could use to protect their livestock. The department said the plan—which has been in development for more than three years and involved input from a wide range of stakeholders—will need to be revised to include reference to wolf presence in California. Siskiyou County rancher Jeff Fowle called delay of the wolf plan "unacceptable," saying ranchers need to know what's in it "to see if it's something we can live with." "It's got to be a plan that actually manages (wolves) and doesn't just look the other way," he said. "Pardon the pun, but it needs to have some teeth in it." Ranchers say the state ESA leaves them few options on how to protect their livestock. Some interpretations of the law, Fowle said, also make unclear the legality of certain methods once thought to be acceptable...more

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