Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Wolves have returned to California after nearly 150 years. Not everyone is happy


A sinewy skull, two hooves and a shriveled hide are all that’s left of the 650-pound cow.

“Wolf kill,” said William McDarment, a rancher on the Tule River Reservation in Tulare county, California. “Picked clean in less than a week … See those tracks.”

The prints are the size of McDarment’s palm, and all around the carcass.

The land on the reservation is high desert meets alpine, 55,000 acres of scrub and redwoods bordering Sequoia national forest. About two years ago, the reservation – which has more cattle than people – was devastated by the Windy fire, which sparked in 2021 after lightning struck here. Years of drought made for perfect kindling and 97,000 acres burned, including many of the reservation’s 300ft-tall sequoias. Losing some of the biggest trees on Earth was a spiritual hit for the Tule River Indian Tribe’s 500 members.

“But it opened up the forest, which is good,” says McDarment, who spent 30 years fighting wildfires for the US Forest Service. Fires supercharged grass growth, providing food for cows, and helping cash-strapped cowboys like him who rely on the land.

The fires brought another change: wolves...more

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