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California Department of Fish and Wildlife Recommendation: No Protection for Wolves
SAN FRANCISCO— In response to a 2012 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has recommended denying protection for gray wolves under California’s Endangered Species Act for the sole reason that there are no wolves in the state at the moment. The report was handed to the California Fish and Game Commission and made available to the public on February 5, and it is now up to the commission to decide whether or not wolves will be protected.
“Wolves deserve a chance to recover in California so it’s disappointing to see the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s recommendation against protections,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Despite acknowledging the state has plenty of wolf habitat, that more wolves will migrate to the state, and that wolves that do get here are likely to face persecution, the Department is saying no to protection only because wolves are not here yet. It makes no sense and is not the kind of forward thinking we expect in the Golden State.”
Wolves were once widely distributed throughout California, but were driven extinct by a government-sponsored eradication effort on behalf of livestock operators and others opposed to the animals. In late 2011 a young male wolf from Oregon known as OR-7 crossed the border into California, becoming the first confirmed wild wolf in the state since the 1920s. OR-7 stayed in California for 15 months before returning to Oregon, but has crossed back into California on several occasions, most recently in December. Oregon has a small but growing wolf population, and it is widely anticipated that more wolves from Oregon will make their way into California.
“The state wildlife agency’s recommendation against listing defies logic,” said Weiss. “California was once wolf country, and these beautiful animals, now beginning to return to the state, deserve the highest level of protection to ensure they can survive here without persecution.”
Photo: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 675,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.