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First known gray wolf visits Nevada County

Hannah Jones
A gray wolf (not OR-54).
Jonh and Karen Hollingsworth, United States Fish and Wildlife Service

California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported this morning that a gray wolf visited Nevada County on Friday, the first known visit of a gray wolf to this area. The two-year-old female, referred to as OR-54, has since returned north to Sierra County.

The wolf is collared with a GPS transmitter, which allowed Fish and Wildlife to locate her a mile and a half from Interstate 80 near Boreal Mountain. Officials believe that she is an offspring of OR-7, a wolf that is a native of Oregon but made history in December 2011 for being the first gray wolf to cross into California in decades.

“The pack that she’s from either got too large or she was looking for more food,” said Chris De Nijs, Agricultural Commissioner for Nevada County, noting that there may be a variety of other reasons OR-54 left her pack. “It’s unknown why she’s dispersing from the pack but they’ve been known to do that.”

According to Kent Laudon, a wolf specialist with California Department of Fish and Wildlife, this is the second time the same wolf has visited Northern California from Oregon, last being spotted by a resident outside of Chester.

De Nijs said due to the wolves’ status as an endangered species it is illegal to hunt or harass them. He recommended keeping a safe distance and reporting the wolf to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife if spotted.

According to the department’s website “wolves rarely pose a direct threat to human safety,” and anyone who encounters one should “never approach, feed or otherwise tamper with a wolf.

“If you have a close encounter with a wolf or wolves, do not run. Maintain eye contact. Act aggressively, make noise while retreating slowly. If the wolf does not retreat, continue acting aggressively by yelling or throwing objects,” the website reads.

If you spot a wolf, a report can be filled out here. More information about known wolves in California can be found here.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or hjones@sierrasun.com.

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